ST. CLAIRSVILLE - A quick snowstorm and falling temperatures Monday afternoon turned Interstate 70 in Belmont County into an icy Slip 'N Slide, causing 30 motor vehicle accidents.
The snowy conditions started about 3 p.m., creating a traffic jam headache for the first business day of 2012. A few quick blasts of freezing snow made many high-elevation roads in the county slick. Accident reports were called in to 911 dispatchers about every 10 minutes, spanning across the county, from I-70 to National Road to Barton Road.
Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jason Greenwood said troopers responded to 30 different accidents and completed reports on 13 of those accidents. There were no injuries, despite two of the crashes causing vehicles to roll over.
Photo by Zach Macormac
A pick-up truck hangs atop a median wall on Interstate 70 near St. Clairsville, one of 30 accidents officers responded to during a short snowstorm Monday.
Greenwood said when he reported for work at noon he knew the snow was coming, but he wasn't prepared for the high number of accidents. Dayshift officers stayed over to help with the calls.
"The first call came in at 3:05 p.m. and it went downhill from there," Greenwood said. "People didn't pay attention to the road conditions and slow down or they were following too close. ... It was an accordion effect."
The majority of the crashes occurred on I-70 between the Belmont Technical College and Ohio Valley Mall exit ramps. But Blaine Hill on U.S. 40 also caused problems. Hilly sections of I-70 also became too icy for some tractor trailers - the semis stalled because they couldn't get traction, he said.
Greenwood recommends people travel at least one-and-a-half car lengths behind other vehicles while driving. Traveling too close doesn't give one enough time to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of them if it stops short.
Greenwood said sheriff's deputies and police from Bridgeport and Shadyside also responded to accidents. In Jefferson County, a sheriff's deputy said he responded to a one-vehicle crash on Ohio 7 near Steubenville. The driver's vehicle struck the median wall because of icy conditions.
A West Virginia State Police dispatcher said troopers did not report any weather-related accidents.
Some states, such as Michigan, experienced a blizzard Monday, receiving a foot or more of lake effect snow. The National Weather Service today is calling for about another inch of snow in the Wheeling area and a high temperature of 22 degrees.
Staff Writer Zach Macormac contributed to this report.