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Black Ice, Snow Piles Create Hazardous Driving Conditions

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Slippery road conditions on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. (credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

Slippery road conditions on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. (credit: George Mesthos/All-News 99.1 WNEW)

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Updated: Feb. 14, 2014 3:00 p.m.
Posted: Feb. 14, 2014 5:01 a.m.

LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — Motorists faced treacherous driving conditions Friday as an overnight freeze of melted snow from Thursday’s massive winter storm glazed over major roadways and left many neighborhood streets resembling bumpy ice rinks.

A portion of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway was shut down in both directions Friday morning due to multiple crashes likely caused by dangerously icy road conditions, according to United States Park Police. The roadway was first closed to southbound traffic before a series of accidents forced authorities to halt northbound traffic near Route 410.

A number of cars skidded off the roadway and into a snow drift near Route 450 earlier in the morning.

Park Police say the National Park Service is responsible for treating the Parkway.

WNEW reporter George Mesthos described the roadway as a complete mess.

“It is bad. You need to avoid the B-W Parkway at all costs,” said Mesthos. “This is white and brown ice. You can see it, but it does not make a difference. You are just rumbling over ice as you go down the road.”

Traffic was snarled for miles by a multi-vehicle crash involving a tractor-trailer on the inner loop of the Capital Beltway near Interstate 295 in Oxon Hill.

Federal agencies opened two hours late and most major school systems in the Washington area remained closed Friday due to the potentially dangerous conditions.

“Anything that looks wet, I can assure you, is black ice,” said traffic expert Julie Wright.

Slick conditions created by the re-freeze aren’t the only obstacle on roadways.

Massive piles of snow created by plows continue to block some lanes and at least partially block some entrances to shopping plazas and residential communities.

“You’re going to have to maneuver yourself through the neighborhood just to get back out toward major artery,” said Wright.

She also stressed the hazard of icy snow chunks flying off the top of cars on the highway. Drivers can be ticketed for not clearing the roof of a car before getting behind the wheel.

“Have patience and give yourself some extra time,” said Wright. “I think once you get on to the major arteries it’s going to be a different scene than (Thursday) and a better ride for you.”

Road conditions are expected to improve as temperatures climb above freezing by mid-morning.

State Police in Virginia say they responded to 1,358 traffic crashes by 8 p.m. Thursday due to dangerous driving conditions.

All-News 99.1 WNEW is the only radio station to provide traffic reports every five minutes during rush hour. Lisa Baden and Julie Wright bring you “Traffic and Weather Together” on the 1’s and “Your Beltway Fix on the 6″ exclusively on All-News 99.1.

Check traffic on your route before heading out on the road.

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