Icy conditions caused crashes, slippery roads across DC region

Black ice and slippery road conditions caused multiple crashes throughout the D.C. region on Thursday morning, a day after the area received its first major snow of the winter.

Here’s what to know:

  • Icy road conditions caused multiple crashes around the region Thursday morning.
  • More black ice is possible as roads refreeze Thursday night.
  • Temperatures will warm into the 40s over the weekend.

Storm Team4 Meteorologist Chuck Bell said that the refreezing of wet roads was a “major concern” for Thursday morning’s commute as temperatures hovered near freezing.

The D.C. area will be in the cold for several days. Afternoon highs will stay below 40 degrees on Thursday and only barely get above that for Friday and Saturday.



Roads

Road crews spent much of Thursday morning treating ice spots on major and secondary roads in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

Black ice was the major problem, along with drivers speeding and not realizing they were going too fast for the road conditions.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli said the roads were slippery in Silver Spring, Maryland, with ice coating cars parked along the road. He said major roads in the area like Georgia Avenue were mostly clear but the side roads remained very icy.

At BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, the nose wheel of a Spirit Airlines flight “slowly slid onto the grass while turning a corner and taxiing to the gate,” according to Field Sutton, media relations manager for the airline. All 111 passengers and crew members were safely transported by bus to the terminal, according to Sutton.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein said drivers has to “bust through” some mini ice and snow piles as many side roads were still being plowed in Chantilly, Virginia. As the sun started to come up he said that the ice slowly started melting away and crews in Purcellville were cleaning parking lots and gas stations.

Harmony Church Road was closed around 10:30 a.m. from Va. 15 to Woodburn Road in both directions due to downed trees and utility lines. The Virginia Department of Transportation said the roadway will remain closed for repairs and urged drivers to find alternate routes and follow all law enforcement direction.

On Interstate 95 in Fairfax County on Thursday morning, a man died after he crashed his SUV into the back of a tractor-trailer, Virginia State Police said. The crash happened around 1:45 a.m. at the 165 mile marker.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis told WTOP Thursday that crews were chipping away at ice throughout the area.

“This is not the morning to be traveling if you have the opportunity to postpone your travel then please do,” Kamilakis said.

She said Loudoun County has a lot of slippery, icy roads and that more than 500 trucks were out clearing area roads. She urged drivers to slow down to help expedite operations.

“People don’t have their snow legs back. We Haven’t had snow like this for at least a couple of years so please drive as gently as possible.”

Shanteé Felix, spokeswoman for the Maryland State Highway Administration, told WTOP that Maryland has about 2,000 pieces of equipment on the roads Thursday morning treating slippery conditions.

“The concern right now is the refreeze and crews have been dealing with the rain, sleet and snow since last night and with temperatures dipping below freezing today they are applying materials to keep the roads from being slick,” Felix said. “You’ll see our crews out there and please give them plenty of space when they’re out there working.”

Felix urged drivers to be careful if they have to head out and to drive 5 to 10 mph slower than usual.

“In conditions like these we always tell people to use extra caution on elevated surfaces such as ramps and bridges. Those are the areas that tend to freeze first so you want to go slower in those areas,” Felix said.

Thursday was the second days of crashes because of the weather.

On Wednesday,  Virginia State Police responded to about 260 crashes and 170 disabled or stuck vehicles along I-81, as of 3 p.m. The majority of crashes have only involved damage to vehicles and not injuries as most crashes involve vehicles sliding off the road and into a ditch, embankment and guardrails, according to a press release.

Virginia State Police investigated one fatal single-vehicle crash in Pulaski County. The crash was one in a series of crashes that occurred on I-81 at the 94 mile marker on Wednesday morning.

The driver, Brannagan K. Locklear, 19, of Pembroke, N.C., was transported to LewisGale Hospital in Pulaski, where he died from his injuries. He was not wearing a seatbelt, according to the press release. Slick road conditions were a factor in the cause of the crash, police said.

Maryland State Police responded to 356 crashes and 226 calls for disabled cars vehicles since Wednesday morning.

Virginia State Police respond to a crash in the northbound lanes of I-495 looking across the American Legion Bridge toward Maryland. (Courtesy Virginia State Police)

Snow Totals

The National Weather Service in the D.C. region released unofficial snow totals Wednesday:

  • Anne Arundel County, Maryland, has received about 1.6 inches
  • Baltimore City, Maryland, received about 3 inches
  • Some Frederick County, Maryland, neighborhoods received more than 7.5 inches
  • Howard County, Maryland, received between 1.5 and 4.5 inches
  • Montgomery County, Maryland, received between 2 and 3.7 inches
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland, received about 1.7 inches
  • The City of Alexandria, Virginia, received 1.5 inches
  • Fairfax County, Virginia, received between 0.4 and 2 inches
  • Loudoun County, Virginia, received between 1.8 and 7 inches
  • Prince William County, Virginia, received between 1 and 3 inches

Closings and Delays

Several D.C.-school systems announced plans for Thursday. Check WTOP’s Closings and Delays page for updates.

The Office of Personnel Management said Wednesday night that federal agency offices in D.C. would be open on a delay Thursday. Employees were expected to arrive by 10 a.m.

Power Outages

Thousands were without power in the D.C. area. Crews continue to restore the electricity.

Forecast

Thursday: Blustery and cold early. Mix of clouds and sun. Diminishing winds later in the day. Highs: mid 30s to near 40.

Friday: Partly sunny. Still brisk and cold. Highs: mid 30s to near 40.

Saturday: Mostly cloudy. More seasonably chilly. Highs: upper 30s to upper 40s..

Sunday: Chance for sprinkles and light showers. Plenty of clouds. Highs: mid to upper 40s.

Current conditions

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2020 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up