Snow squall triggers series of I-81 wrecks

Posted: February 18, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Slick road conditions caused by a snow squall caused a series of multi-vehicle accidents on Interstate 81 early Sunday morning.

No serious injuries were reported, according to Sgt. F.L. Tyler of the Virginia State Police, but at least 20 vehicles crashed between mile marker 315 at Berryville Pike (Va. 7) and mile marker 311, just north of Kernstown, causing significant traffic delays.

The wrecks occurred about 8:30 a.m. in both the northbound and southbound lanes as a fast-falling snow whitened the pavement.

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) closed the southbound lanes for about two hours to clear the accidents.

According to Tyler, two minor injuries were reported.

Ed Novak of Clarke County said he drove to Berryville about 8 a.m. and returned to his home off Salem Church Road about 30 minutes later.

He didn’t see any snow on Senseny Road, but when he turned south on Salem Church Road, he found between a half and three-quarters of an inch of snow on the ground.

Meteorologist Brian Lasorsa of the National Weather Service office in Sterling said snow squalls are born just like summer showers.

In Sunday’s case, a flow of air brought moisture from the Great Lakes region south on a cold wind.

Over the Shenandoah Valley, the unstable atmosphere caused an upward motion of the moisture into colder air at a higher altitude. The moisture returned to earth in the form of snow, but only in a limited area.

“There was another band of snow south of you in Madison County,” Lasorsa said.

More “normal” weather for February returns today, with sunny skies and temperatures in the mid-40s, Lasorsa said. But look for chances of a “wintry mix,” overnight, just in time for the Tuesday morning commute.

“It’s February. It’s gonna happen,” Lasorsa said.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com