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It’s snow holiday

Despite storm, officials report relatively few accidents

01/17/22 Mirror photo by Patrick Waksmunski / Julia Eckenrode, 14, pulls Haley Karlheim, 14, on a sled on Economy Street in Chest Springs on Monday afternoon.

After about half a foot of snow — or more in some areas — blanketed the region Sunday night, drivers were met with hazardous road conditions Monday, but there were relatively few vehicular accidents, according to officials.

As of Monday afternoon, the Altoona Fire Department had only responded to two accidents, according to assistant fire chief Michael Hawksworth.

“We’re fortunate today with the holiday, with schools already out, that limits traffic,” Hawksworth said. “It seems like a lot of people were staying in if they didn’t need to be out. The public staying in and not doing normal running around has given (personnel) the chance to get roads clear and safe again.”

Hawksworth said the two accidents the fire department responded to were minor and that no one was injured.

According to state police at Hollidaysburg, state police were called to five accidents between Sunday and Monday evening, which can partially be attributed to the weather.

“There’s environmental factors, but usually people are driving too fast for conditions,” Trooper Chris Fox said. “There’s always the driver-at-fault factor, but it doesn’t help that there’s snowy roadways.”

Amid a wind advisory, power outages seemed to be the bigger problem Monday, as Penelec reported there were up to 60 customers in the region without power.

Blue Knob All Seasons Resort in Claysburg closed its skiing and snowboarding trails at 2:45 p.m. due to an outage and high winds making it difficult to operate the lifts.

PennDOT’s District 9 safety press officer Monica Jones said state transportation officials have been hard at work due to the hazardous conditions, and that she hadn’t heard of any accidents in the area as of Monday afternoon.

“Crews have been on the roads since Sunday afternoon and continue to be out there,” Jones said. “We started keeping an eye on the storm a few days ago and knew it was coming. We had planning meetings, and maintenance crews had staff on standby to make sure equipment was operational and functioning. They have mostly been plowing and trying to keep snow that might start blowing and drifting off the roads, and they continue to circulate to make sure roads are not impassable.”

Jones said conditions will improve as precipitation decreases.

“Once it slows down, things will get a little better,” Jones said. “They’re out making sure things are clear.”

Though the snow is expected to stop early this week, temperatures could plummet by Thursday. Thursday’s low is projected at 5 degrees, and the low Friday will be 0. Saturday, the low will be 3 degrees, according to weather.com.

While the leftover snowfall isn’t expected to be significant, Accuweather senior meteorologist Tom Kines said drivers should be careful.

“It’ll probably just be a dusting, but that doesn’t mean roads are totally safe,” Kines said. “There can still be slick spots out there.”

Altoona police officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on accidents.

Mirror Staff Writer Andrew Mollenauer is at 814-946-7428.

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