Rain turns area roads treacherous

Motorists encounter several crashes, flooding due to heavy rainfall

By Joe Beck

Heavy rains Wednesday morning contributed to several crashes that clogged traffic on area interstates and secondary roads.

The worst delay was caused by a two-vehicle crash on northbound Interstate 81 at the 289-mile marker in Shenandoah County. The crash sent many cars and trucks onto U.S. 11 in search of relief through the late morning and mid-afternoon. The Virginia Department of Transportation reported traffic backups of up to three miles.

Another accident involving a tractor-trailer at mile marker 296 in the southbound lane of I-81 closed the south right shoulder of the road in the early afternoon.

VDOT also reported delays on Interstate 66 in Warren County in the morning. A two-vehicle accident in the eastbound lane at mile marker 13 and a single vehicle accident about two hours earlier, also in the eastbound lane, at mile marker 12, slowed traffic.

The National Weather Service reported rainfall totals ranging from 2.25 inches in Strasburg to 2.77 inches at Chester Gap and 2.92 inches at the Frederick and Hampshire county line.

Flooding also forced the closing of four roads in Shenandoah County, according to VDOT.

Sandy Myers, a spokeswoman for VDOT’s Staunton office, said the accidents, traffic jams and road closures came as no surprise.

“We usually see an uptick in accidents when we do have heavy rains,” Myers said, adding that she was unsure if Wednesday’s traffic problems were any worse than those from similar storms.

In another traffic matter, the Virginia State Police identified a motorcyclist who died in a crash on I-81 near Mount Jackson early Tuesday. The victim was Frank Herman Strum, 31, of Alabama.

The Weather Service forecast called for much improved conditions Thursday. Jason Elliott, a hydrologist with the Weather Service, said he expected a few showers to linger. The chance of precipitation is expected to diminish to 30 percent. Patches of fog are likely before noon with highs near 70 and mostly cloudy skies.

“The worst is definitely over,” Elliott said in an interview late Wednesday afternoon.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com