By Joe Beck
The state patrol regional division that includes the Northern Shenandoah Valley held the dubious distinction of counting more traffic accidents than any other in Virginia during Wednesday's winter storm, according to statistics released late Wednesday by the agency.
The Culpeper division encompassing the communities of Harrisonburg, Winchester, Warrenton, Culpeper and Fredericksburg accounted for 183 of the 686 crashes spanning seven regions statewide. The next highest total was 154 recorded in the Salem region of Lexington, Clifton Forge, Roanoke, Blacksburg, Bedford, Martinsville and Danville.
The totals do not include traffic accident investigations led by sheriff's offices and municipal police forces.
State police answered a total of 253 calls for service in the Culpeper division, including 33 disabled vehicles, according to the agency.
The statewide numbers cover the period from 12:01 a.m. Wednesday through 2 p.m. Wednesday when rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow were at their worst in creating hazardous road conditions.
State police said the majority of the accidents were limited to vehicle damage and involved only a few injuries.
State police Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler blamed the higher crash totals in the region on colder air and the sharpest effects of the storm concentrating in the northern part of the state.
Local law enforcement officials reported county roads mostly clear, although snow and ice were lingering in a few spots.
Warren Gosnell, supervisor of the traffic division in the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, reported three crashes Thursday that he attributed to slippery roads.
"Secondary roads still have slush and ice and, of course, as temperatures fall, they will be a little bit more treacherous to drive upon after sunset," Gosnell said.
Lt. Wesley Dellinger reported no accidents in Shenandoah County since 11 p.m. Wednesday.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org