Icy, flooding roads cause hazards

A robin perches on an icy branch on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Monday’s wet wintry mix caused dangerous conditions Tuesday morning that closed area schools but abated into the afternoon with sun and highs around 40 degrees.

The National Weather Service issued a flood watch for the area Monday afternoon that expired Tuesday afternoon. Meteorologist Andy Woodcock said the area dodged a “minor bullet” with precipitation only placing smaller creeks and streams at risk, rather than whole rivers.

“We thought there was going to be a period of some heavy rain and at this time of year. It doesn’t take as much rain to cause flooding,” he said.

Below-freezing lows Tuesday night put roads with standing water at risk for ice, but Woodcock said the area forecast isn’t calling for any more storms in the next few days.

Flooding caused some roads in Front Royal to shut down Tuesday into the evening, including the 8th Street bridge between Crosby Road and Commerce Avenue and the western end of Luray Avenue near the river. Cindy Bailey, a senior dispatcher at the Front Royal Police Department, said a water main break at around 5:30 p.m. also shut down 15th Street between Woodside and Madison avenues.

Icy conditions Tuesday morning caused problems along Main Street in Edinburg while Interstate 81 northbound traffic was diverted because of an overturned tractor-trailer around mile marker 279.

Capt. Wesley Dellinger of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office said that a tree limb heavy with ice might’ve been pressing down on a power line, causing it to dip lower over the road than usual. A tractor-trailer passing through then caught on the power line around 9 a.m. and took it down near Edinburg Gap Road. He said the road reopened within 20 minutes of the incident, with help from Shenandoah County Fire & Rescue and the Edinburg Volunteer Fire Company.

Besides the power line incident, Dellinger said that police responded to about a dozen calls about road debris caused by ice and a half dozen traffic incidents with no injuries.

“We mainly responded to cars that were either stuck in the roadways due to significant icing or maybe they had slid off into ditches,” he said.

By the afternoon, he said travel conditions had greatly improved despite more water on the roads.

“As the day continues with the melt, that drift may increase, but we haven’t got any calls in,” he said.

Area schools were already scheduled to be out on Monday for Presidents Day, but icy conditions caused closings on Tuesday.

Shenandoah County Schools first announced that schools would be closed and 12-month employees would be on a two-hour delay Tuesday but later announced that offices were closed to all personnel. Warren County Public Schools’ website reported Tuesday closings at about 8:15 p.m. Monday.

Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications for Frederick County Public Schools, said the schools made the decision to close at around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, waiting to assess area roads because of forecasted temperature increases. Roads were still too icy for safe travel in the morning, and Edwards said he wouldn’t speculate on weather or road conditions into Wednesday.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com