The ice storm that is bracing the country is to blame for a 50-car chain reaction on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. The 50-car chain reaction during the icy storm “was set off when a motorist got out of his car and was hit and killed,” reported NBC10 Philadelphia on Dec. 8, 2013.
The icy storm system that is embracing the country from the west to the east is dropping cold temperatures, snow, freezing rain and sleet on the roads resulting in cancelled flights and slippery and hard to maneuver roads. On Sunday afternoon, the Philadelphia airport closed all its runways at one point.
According to turnpike spokesman Carl DeFebo, shortly after 12 p.m. on Sunday, a crash initially involving only 12 vehicles turned into a 50-car chain reaction involving cars and trucks after a man got out of his vehicle following a minor accident on the highway. He was hit by another car and was killed.
The 50-car chain reaction car crash happened just west of Philadelphia near Morgantown and the series of crashes shut down the Westbound lanes of the turnpike from Downingtown to Morgantown for seven hours.
For many motorists, being stuck on the Pennsylvania Turnpike brought the ice storm that is bracing the country all too close.
In California and other states along the west coast, freezing temperatures and snow in lower levels have brought below average temperatures. Freezing temperatures caused the University of Oregon and Oregon State to cancel classes on Friday. In the San Francisco Bay area, four people died of hypothermia.
By Saturday, subfreezing temperatures in most of the Great Plains, the Tennessee Valley and Montana made Dec. 7 a record-breaking cold day. Even the Dallas-Fort Worth area was affected by the ice storm and temperatures dropped to 25 degrees by Saturday afternoon. "The residential streets are almost like ice skating rinks," said Dennis Cain, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Fort Worth. Icy conditions continued through the weekend from Texas to Ohio.
By Sunday, the ice storm dropped between three to six inches of snow on West Virginia and blanketed the Washington, D.C., metro area with snow.
The icy storm system coated roads and highways from Virginia through southeastern Pennsylvania with snow and ice, and reduced visibility made car travel treacherous – as the 50-car chain reaction car crashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike showed.
According to the National Weather Service, the ice storm is expected to continue this week:
- A cold Santa Ana for southern California tonight into Tuesday.
- Cold conditions from the West into the northern Plains through Tuesday.
- Winter Weather for the Northeast today into Late Monday.
- Cold conditions are expected from the Intermountain West into the Northern Plains.
- Temperatures across the large section of the West and Northern Plains should struggle to rise to 20F through Tuesday.
- Moderate to heavy rainfall to the Southeast.
- From the Mid-Atlantic states northward into New England, a mixed bag of snow, sleet, and freezing rain is expected through Monday.
As the ice storm continues and the 50-car chain reaction car crashes on the Pennsylvania Turnpike have shown, drivers are advised to use caution when being out on the road. Or as Memphis attorney Sam Chafetz told The Washington Post, "it looks like we’re going to be stuck with this for one, two, maybe three days. I’m not afraid of the ice and snow; I’m afraid of the other drivers who don’t know how to drive in it.”