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Snow Snarls Traffic in Midwest, East

January 04, 1986|From Times Wire Services

Heavy snow snarled traffic in parts of northern New England Friday as a blustery storm churned eastward after bringing 6 inches of snow to the Great Lakes region, killing one man on an icy highway.

The storm system, accompanied by gusty winds, brought mixed rain and snow to parts of Massachusetts and New York, after leaving up to 6 inches of snow in Michigan and other parts of the Great Lakes region.

Traffic was snarled in Illinois and Wisconsin, and authorities said a Machesney Park, Ill., man was killed when his car skidded out of control and rolled down an embankment on icy and snow-packed Interstate 26 in Stephenson County.

Some Schools Close

Poor visibility and a steady snowfall contributed to at least 50 accidents in Ottawa County, Mich., a sheriff's department dispatcher said. The Kent County Sheriff's Department reported at least 19 accidents and two-foot snowdrifts covering some roads.

More than half a dozen school districts were closed, mostly in western Michigan.

Rain and light snow were falling when an American Airlines DC-10 with 248 people aboard skidded off the runway at Detroit Metropolitan Airport Thursday night, but officials said no one was hurt.

Elsewhere in Michigan, most of the 50 people who fled their low-lying homes along the St. Clair River in southeastern Michigan returned home Friday as water receded.

'Snowbursts' Reported

Muskegon, Mich., had 6 inches of snow, and Rockford, Ill., reported 5.6 inches in about three hours, the National Weather Service said.

The forecast for Rockford had called for only a 30% chance of snow. But Tom Draus, a forecaster at Greater Rockford Airport, said of the fast-moving weather system: "There's absolutely no way of knowing how much (snow) you'll get with these 'snowbursts,' or how long it will last."

Storm Warnings Issued

The weather service issued winter storm warnings in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine, predicting that parts of the region would get up to a foot of new snow.

Cars slid off roads along the Maine coast, where snow turned to freezing rain and sleet, while heavy snow fell inland, bringing a fresh cover to ski areas.

'Snowing Like Crazy'

"It's snowing like crazy," said Wendy McInerny, marketing director for Pleasant Mountain, where several inches had fallen by early afternoon.

Snow fell at a rate of an inch an hour at Lebanon, N.H., and at least four people were injured in a pileup of more than a dozen cars on icy Interstate 93 in Concord. In Merrimack, a car struck a school bus carrying 10 students, but the only injury was to the car's driver, who was hospitalized in good condition.

Half a foot of snow had fallen by midday in Vermont, sending four tractor-trailer trucks skidding off slick roads at East Manchester.

'Messy Out There'

"It's really messy out there," said Ray Burke, dispatcher for the Vermont Highway Department.

Joe Luisi, a meteorologist for the weather service in Burlington, said a low-pressure system was off southern New Jersey and that it threatened to shift toward Vermont.

Accumulations were expected to range from 3 to 12 inches of new snow, forecasters said.

In the West, a frontal system brought snow and stiff winds to the northern Rockies. A travelers' advisory was in effect for northwestern Wyoming, and wind-chill factors dropped to 43 below zero in some parts of the state as winds gusted to nearly 75 m.p.h. Visibility at the Jackson Hole Airport was cut to just a quarter-mile in swirling snow.

Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming received 8 inches of new snow, and winds of 52 m.p.h. were reported between Casper and Laramie, Wyo., while 40 m.p.h. winds buffeted southern Idaho, officials said.

Warmer weather prevented a 40-mile ice jam clogging the Snake River along the Oregon-Idaho border from expanding, but water still washed across low-lying farms. About a dozen families have been forced from their homes by flooding.

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