By Doug Ireland
---- — Just when the weather started to finally warm up, the region was hit with another deep freeze.
Only a few days after Southern New Hampshire saw below-zero temperatures and nearly a foot of snow, another round of unpredictable weather sent cars off local roads yesterday.
A combination of freezing rain, melting snow and heavy fog contributed to numerous accidents, according to state and local police.
In Londonderry, a collision between a tractor-trailer and a Ford Saturn shortly after 10:30 a.m. sent two women to the hospital with serious injuries.
“We had quite a few accidents early this morning,” New Hampshire State Police Lt. Christopher Wagner said. “Visibility was close to zero. You really couldn’t see beyond the front of your car.”
Message boards along Interstate 93 warned drivers to slow down because of the fog and poor driving conditions.
“We really urge people to change the way they drive in this weather,” Wagner said. “If you don’t slow down, you are taking a risk.”
One of the accidents included a state police cruiser that was hit after stopping because of a rollover on I-93 in Bow. A tractor-trailer crash closed part of Interstate 89, and police in Londonderry and Salem each reported seven accidents before mid-morning.
There were several accidents in Derry as well, including one involving a tow truck and a car on an icy Warner Hill Road, police Capt. Vern Thomas said. There were no serious injuries
Only hours after temperatures reached nearly 50 degrees by afternoon, an Arctic-like blast sent them plummeting by early evening — causing even more icing.
The region will continue to remain locked in an icy grip through Thursday, with high temperatures today about 17 degrees and about 18 degrees tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.
It’s the same cold-air mass that saw record-low temperatures being set in western and midwestern states over the weekend, meteorologist James Brown said.
The heavy rain that fell yesterday morning and afternoon quickly became ice as darkness fell shortly after 4 p.m.
State Department of Transportation and town public works crews, working on very little rest since the snowstorm Thursday and Friday, were busy treating roads.
The crews were gearing up for the bitter cold expected the next few days, removing snow and water before it became ice, DOT spokesman William Boynton said. That included reducing the size of snowbanks along highways, he said.
Derry public works director Michael Fowler said his crews, still weary from the earlier storm, were taking a brief rest yesterday afternoon, before heading out last night.
“We are definitely on guard for a temperature drop,” Fowler said.
He expected to have 15 trucks out salting as temperatures started to fall. The crews were also out salting yesterday morning before the brief warm spell, which only lasted several hours.
Wind chills tonight could drop to as low as 12 degrees below zero, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather is expected to warm up Thursday with temperatures in the mid-20s and climbing to the low 30s on Friday.