HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) - An intense winter storm pelted western Maryland with up to 9 inches of snow Wednesday, slowing post-Christmas travel and forcing some to seek shelter as the precipitation changed to sleet and freezing rain.
Maryland State Police reported scores of accidents from the Baltimore-Washington suburbs to the western Maryland mountains.
The National Weather Service forecast more misery Wednesday night and Thursday from strong winds, minor coastal flooding and power outages.
Traffic crawled along Interstate 81 near Hagerstown as snow falling in wet clumps reached a depth of 2 inches by noon.
Larry McClain and John Crider, each driving a mobile construction crane from Shady Grove, Pa., traveled only 15 miles before snow forced them off the highway and into a McDonald's in Hagerstown. The vehicles aren't permitted to travel in snow.
They planned to spend the night in a motel before resuming the trip south. Crider was headed for Oklahoma City and McClain for Corpus Christi, Texas. They work for Abba Motor Lines of Chambersburg, Pa.
"We were hoping they would have told us to stay at home today but they thought maybe we could get south and beat the storm _ but we didn't do it," McClain said.
Richard Power, driving in a Dodge minivan with his wife, two children and their beagle, Lucky, left Levittown, N.Y., for Louisville, Ky., at about 5:30 a.m. They made good time for 180 miles until they hit snow near Harrisburg, Pa. By the time they reached Hagerstown, traffic on I-81 had slowed to about 15 mph.
"We're going to try to go down south and get below it," said Power, a manufacturing supervisor from Levittown. "We're going to go as far as we can go and then maybe about 4 o'clock, if it doesn't get better, we're going to just get a hotel."
The National Weather Service reported snow accumulation late Wednesday afternoon ranging from about a half-inch in Montgomery Village to 9 inches in Frostburg.
The weather service said sleet and freezing rain could coat much of the state Wednesday night. The agency issued a wind advisory across most of the state for Thursday, excluding the Eastern Shore. It predicted northwest winds of 20 to 25 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph.
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