Saturday, April 19, 2014
Freezing rain Saturday caused dozens of motorists to slide off roads across the state, according to police, who said weather also was a factor in a two-vehicle crash in Hollis that killed two people.
Tow trucks line up to remove four tractor-trailers that were involved in an accident on the Maine Turnpike in Falmouth on Saturday.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
Dennis Lamb with Portland’s Downtown District spreads sand on walkways at Free and Temple streets Saturday as freezing rain coated sidewalks and streets with ice.
Maine State Police said a van driven by a 17-year-old crossed into oncoming traffic on slush-covered Route 117 Saturday afternoon and crashed into a pickup truck. Two passengers in the van were killed.
The driver of the van and the two people in the pickup were all injured and taken to area hospitals. They are expected to survive their injuries, said Stephen McCausland, a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
McCausland said the identities of the two who died in the accident will be released once relatives are notified. He said the people in the pickup truck were David Devore, 29, and Brittany Stacey, 24, both of Limington.
The road remained closed early Saturday night.
Roads all across Maine were closed for parts of the day. Even highway department trucks spreading salt and sand had trouble staying on the road when freezing rain that had been expected to end by midday hung on into the afternoon, leaving slick layers of ice on state roads and highways. The speed limit on the Maine Turnpike from Falmouth to Augusta was lowered to 45 mph nearly all day before it was finally raised back to 65 mph around 7 p.m. as temperatures climbed above freezing.
A 10-mile section of that stretch of the turnpike was shut down for 10 hours Saturday while crews removed the debris from an early-morning crash in Falmouth involving four tractor-trailers and a passenger vehicle. Police said the accident was caused by ice on the highway.
Dan Morin, the turnpike spokesman, said no one was seriously injured but one of the tractor-trailer drivers had to be extracted from the cab of his truck and all five drivers were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland for treatment of their injuries.
State police said the crash happened shortly before 4 a.m. when one of the tractor-trailers jackknifed, creating a chain reaction in the southbound lanes.
Three of the tractor-trailers crashed into the guardrail and came to rest facing north. Two of the three rolled over, with their cargo spilling out. The passenger vehicle landed in the median and the fourth tractor-trailer crashed into the guardrail but remained facing south.
The reason for the icy roads was stubborn cold air near the surface that froze the rain as it came down, said Bob Marine, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray.
“It took quite a while for the cold, dense air to be pushed out,” Marine said. That finally occurred across most of the state late in the afternoon, shortly before sunset. Marine said temperatures at the weather office rose 12 degrees, from just below freezing into the 40s, in about 15 minutes around 4 p.m. By early Saturday evening, the temperature was in the upper 40s.
Officials had worried that a sudden warm-up would cause ice jams and flooding of Maine rivers, but Marine said there were no reports of any flooding by early Saturday night and those concerns were easing, even though rain was expected to continue falling until around midnight.
He said the rain was not as heavy as had been forecast and most of the rain that fell was absorbed by the snowpack, rather than running off into streams and rivers.
Marine said freezing rain should disappear as a problem overnight, with temperatures expected to remain above freezing, and a forecast for Sunday calling for temperatures in the mid-40s and some sunshine, conditions that are expected to be repeated on Monday.
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