EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 24, 2013

Rain, followed by cold, makes treacherous roads

Rain, followed by cold, makes roads treacherous

By Douglas Moser and Paul Tennant dmoser@eagletribune.com, ptennant@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — A blast of cold weather could make for icy driving conditions today and tomorrow for Christmas holiday travelers.

Balmy temperatures last weekend, followed by yesterday's steady rain, melted much of last week's snow, but temperatures in the area are expected to remain at or below freezing until Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Police urge motorists to use extreme caution and watch out for black ice. Toward the beginning of the rainy weather, a few minutes after midnight Sunday, a couple of teenagers in Georgetown failed to exercise caution and one of them had to be transported to the hospital after he crashed his car into a tree, police said.

He and another teenager were racing their cars on Baldpate Road, police said. Sgt. Scott Hatch encountered the crash near 84 Baldpate Road while on patrol. David LeBlanc, 19, of 231 West Main St., the driver who ended up in the hospital, was issued a summons for driving under the influence of liquor, racing, negligent operation and speeding.

Joseph Mangano, 18, of 15 Madison Ave., was issued a summons for racing, negligent operation and speeding.

Late yesterday, one person was transported to a hospital and another was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of liquor after an accident on Johnson Street in North Andover a few minutes before 11 p.m. Further details were not available at press time.

Last night, the temperature bottomed out at 24 degrees, and today's high is forecast at 32 degrees, with sunny and clear skies. But tonight is forecast to be cold, with a low around 14 degrees. Tomorrow, the temperature is forecast to get only to 23 degrees during another mostly sunny day, and down to 20 degrees overnight.

The wet roads and low temperatures could create conditions for patches of ice or black ice on roads.

Thursday, the temperature is forecast to be 37 with cloudy conditions.

The first full day of winter Sunday brought a mix including mild temperatures along the Mid-Atlantic, snow in the Midwest and ice, snow and flooding in the Great Lakes. Utilities warned that some people who lost electricity could remain in the dark through Wednesday. Northern New England saw wintry weather.

More than 390,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday in northern New England, upstate New York and Michigan, down from Sunday's peak of more than a half million. The bulk were in Michigan, where more than 297,000 customers remained without power Monday. The state's largest utilities said it will be days before most of those get their electricity back because of the difficulty of working around ice-broken lines.

In Maine, the number of people without power spiked to more than 68,000. A medical clinic in Bangor lost power, forcing walk-in patients to seek other options.

"It's certainly not going away," Margaret Curtis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, said Monday of the precipitation and cold. "In fact, we don't have very many areas where we're expecting temperatures to rise above freezing."

At least nine deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the storm, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 130 mph struck in Arkansas.

More than 200 flights were canceled in the U.S. by 2 p.m. Monday, the bulk of them in Chicago, Denver, Houston and Dallas, according to FlightAware. The number is in line with a typical travel day and much improved from Sunday's 700 or so cancellations. There are typically more than 30,000 daily flights in the United States.

But poor weather continued to lead to delays, with 3,420 flights behind schedule Monday. The majority of those problems were in New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Dallas and Houston.

In Maine, Judith Martin was heading from her home in South Grafton, Mass., to Kingston, when she stopped at a rest area along Interstate 95 in West Gardiner. She said roads got worse the farther north she drove.

"The trees are loaded with ice, so it makes me think the road is loaded with ice," Martin said.

Power failures caused related concerns. Vermont's Department of Health warned people to be careful with generators and other equipment after a weekend spike in carbon monoxide poisonings. The department had half a dozen reports in one day, about what the state sees in a typical winter.

While the cold will continue to harass people, there's no major precipitation on the horizon through the end of the week, Curtis said.

Meanwhile, flooding in Ohio and Indiana caused no reported injuries but forced some small-scale evacuations and closed several roads.

In New York's St. Lawrence County, almost 2 inches of ice fell, coating tree limbs and power lines, and a state of emergency was declared to keep the roads clear of motorists. As of Monday afternoon, some 25,000 customers were still without power.

The winter weather was far from nationwide, though. Record high temperatures were reached in some Mid-Atlantic states this weekend, but temperatures were expected to drop back to the mid-30s by Monday night.

On Sunday, the mercury reached 70 degrees in New York's Central Park, easily eclipsing the previous high of 63 from 1998. Records were also set in Wilmington, Del., (67), Atlantic City, N.J., (68), and Philadelphia (67). Washington tied its 1889 mark at 72.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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