• Click here to follow reported accidents and road conditions on the York County 911 log.

  • A series of snow squalls - especially a nasty one during the evening rush hour - resulted in dozens of wrecks and shut down Interstate 83 for more than an hour Friday night.

    Crews with the state Department of Transportation had been keeping up with the roads throughout the day, but "that last snow squall kind of killed us," said Gary Ishman, a county maintenance manager with PennDOT.

    Two tractor trailers jackknifed on I-83 between the Queen Street and Leader Heights exits about 6:45 p.m. Temperatures had dropped, and the road started freezing up.

    A bird of prey prepares for a snowy Friday afternoon meal in Farquhar Park.
    A bird of prey prepares for a snowy Friday afternoon meal in Farquhar Park. (DAILY RECORD / SUNDAY NEWS -- KATE PENN)

    Traffic backed up for miles, and the salt trucks got stuck in the mess trying to get there. Eventually, two crew members had to shovel salt by hand to help get traffic moving again.

    And when it did, PennDOT officials found that about a dozen drivers had abandoned their vehicles on I-83. PennDOT had to call in tow trucks to move the vehicles to the side of the road.

    "It wasn't pretty," Ishman said.

    By late Friday night, I-83 was dry in the northern end of the county, and officials hoped the rest of the interstate would dry up quickly with traffic moving again.

    PennDOT planned to keep 30 trucks on the road until midnight.

    Officials kept busy

    The surprise snow showers Friday began early, when numerous crashes reported during the morning rush hour, according to York County 911. Snow fell again in the afternoon, but things took a turn for the worse during the evening rush hour.

    From 4 to 9 p.m., the York County 911 center was deluged with more than 500 calls for service, mainly for icy road conditions and vehicular crashes, a dispatch supervisor estimated. Most crashes were minor, with no serious injuries reported, according to 911.

    At 6:30 p.m., state police issued a news release, advising drivers to "stay clear" of Interstate 83.

     Cameron Penn, 1, and his mother, Stephanie Penn, play in the snow Nov. 21 in the front yard of their York home. The area had more than an inch of snow.
    Cameron Penn, 1, and his mother, Stephanie Penn, play in the snow Nov. 21 in the front yard of their York home. The area had more than an inch of snow. (DAILY RECORD/SUNDAY NEWS - MICHELE CANTY)
    "PSP also is advising to stay off all roadways due to weather conditions," the news release stated.

    At 7 p.m., the York County 911 Center announced over its communication system that it was operating under "emergency conditions," meaning it was experiencing extreme call volume and would need to limit radio transmissions to those of a high priority.

    State police Cpl. Brian Torkar of the Loganville barracks said the number of troopers on the night shift was doubled in response to the storm.

    "We are still having a difficult time keeping up with the volume," Torkar said Friday night.

    Throughout the storm, I-83 - both north- and southbound - was shut down in numerous locations, he said.

    Torkar added that even though the interstate was open after 9 p.m., the backup of vehicles was still causing massive delays.

    "One of my troopers was scheduled to start at 6," Torkar said at 9:30 p.m. "He just walked in the door."

    Drivers left waiting

    Just off Interstate 83 at South Queen Street, people hung out at the South York Diner, waiting for the roads to clear up.

    "We had quite a few people come in just to use the restroom," said Landon Roe, a host at the diner.

    Roe said he helped one lady get a hotel room at the nearby Country Inn & Suites for the night.

    A family from the Carlisle area missed their plane to Orlando and also planned to stay at a hotel, he said.

    But finding a room wasn't necessarily easy.

    The Holiday Inn Express at the Leader Heights exit of I-83 was booked solid.

    "We're completely sold out from people coming off of 83," said Monica Willis, guest service representative at the front desk.

    In fact, 14 people were waiting in the lobby, hoping that some reservations would be canceled for the night.

    "They're just waiting for rooms," she said, adding that most of the customers were from the local area.

    Daily Record/Sunday News reporters Teresa Ann Boeckel, Michele Canty and Ted Czech contributed to this report.

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    Latest from the weather service: Bob Klug, meteorologist with AccuWeather.com, said cold air in the upper levels of the atmosphere reacting with warm temperatures on lakes such as Lake Erie "formed good snow bands" Friday.

    "It was an unstable day across the northeast," he said.

    As of late Friday night, neither AccuWeather nor the National Weather Service had an estimate on how much snow York County received.

    Saturday's forecast calls for no snow, but temperatures will remain cold with highs in the mid-30s, Klug said.

    10:15 p.m.: It's been a busy night for York County 911.

    Just as county residents were leaving work Friday afternoon to return home, the storm seemed to surge, creating slick spots on roads from Springettsbury Township to Stewartstown and numerous municipalities in between. The slippery spots caused crashes, mostly minor, in which no one was severely injured, according to the York County 911 Center.

    From 4 to 9 p.m., the York County 911 Center was deluged with more than 500 calls for service, mainly for icy road conditions and vehicular crashes, a dispatch supervisor estimated.

    At 6:30 p.m., state police issued a news release, advising drivers to "stay clear" of Interstate 83. "PSP also is advising to stay off all roadways due to weather conditions," the news release stated.

    At 7 p.m., the York County 911 Center announced over its communication system that it was operating under "emergency conditions," meaning it was experiencing extreme call volume and would need to limit radio transmissions to those of a high priority.

    9:45 p.m.: State police Cpl. Brian Torkar of the Loganville barracks said the number of troopers on the night shift was doubled in response to the storm.

    "We are still having a difficult time keeping up with the volume," Torkar said tonight.

    Torkar said PennDOT trucks were unable to effectively salt on Interstate 83 because of the crashes the storm left in its wake - the very things PennDOT workers were trying to alleviate.

    Throughout the storm, I-83 - both north- and southbound - was shut down in numerous locations, he said.

    "It's a mess," Torkar said.

    He added that even though the interstate was open after 9 p.m., the backup of vehicles was still causing massive delays.

    "One of my troopers was scheduled to start at 6," he said at 9:30 p.m. "He just walked in the door."

    9:30 p.m.: Don't expect to get a room at the Holiday Inn Express at the Leaders Heights exit.

    "We're completely sold out from people coming off of 83," said Monica Willis, guest service representative at the front desk. In fact, 14 people are waiting in the lobby, hoping that guests with reservations will cancel for the night.

    "They're just waiting for rooms," she said.

    9:20 p.m.: Some people were hanging out at the South York Diner tonight waiting for the roads to clear up.

    "This is crazy," said Landon Roe, a host a the diner. "We had quite a few people come in just to use the restroom."

    He helped one patron get a hotel room at the nearby Country Inn and Suites for the night, he said.

    A family from the Carlisle area missed their plane to Orlando and also planned to stay at an area hotel.

    Another customer planned to move down to the Sheetz when the diner closes.

    "South Queen Street looks like it has an icy glaze over it," Roe said.

    8:50 p.m.: A reader who called in but declined to give her name said she's only traveled two miles on Interstate 83 northbound within the last hour. She's still south of Glen Rock, and all she can see are brake lights in the distance.

    "There's people getting out of their cars," she said.

    Gary Ishman said the last snow squall was a nasty one, probably dropping half an inch of powder in 15 minutes.

    "It was a white out," he said. "You couldn't see 25 feet."

    Temperatures dropped, and the roads got icy.

    PennDOT plans to keep its 30 trucks on the streets until midnight.

    8:30 p.m.: Interstate 83 was shut down for about an hour in each direction between the Queen Street and Leader Heights exits because of crashes, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation. In fact, PennDOT's trucks got stuck in the backup that ensued. The interstate has reopened, but traffic is moving slowly. As of about 8:15 p.m., a supervisor at York County 911 characterized I-83 in that area as a "parking lot."

    8:20 p.m.: State police are advising that people stay off the roads altogether because of the conditions.

    8 p.m.: Reports continue to come in about heavy traffic volumes on I-83. Drivers should try to avoid the interstate if possible.

    7 p.m.: A driver reported that traffic on Interstate 83 south around the South Queen Street interchange has been at a stand still for about the past hour.

    6:25 p.m.: Fire police closed the Route 30 bridge over Mount Zion Road in Springettsbury Township. Because of ice on the bridge, vehicles are being directed off the highway at the interchange and then back onto the highway.

    There are more than 30 active accidents listed on York County 911's online log, including some on I-83 and Route 30.

    Also, fire police were called to South Queen Street and Rathton Road in Spring Garden Township because of icy conditions.

    Earlier
    Another snow squall delivered heavy snowfall with limited visibility briefly during rush hour, according to AccuWeather.com meteorologist Alan Reppert.

    Numerous accidents have been reported, with some roads shut down because of icy conditions and crashes.

    Crews with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation plan to be out until at least 7 p.m. spreading salt and antiskid, said Gary Ishman, assistant county maintenance manager.

    Drivers' vehicles slid into each other on many roads around York County today after the surprise snowstorm hit this morning, according to York County 911 reports.

    Emergency responders have been out at a number of collisions.

    Snow coated much of the area, causing minor fender-benders and other weather-related problems, according to York County 911 reports.

    Three crashes were reported shortly after 7 a.m., with several other small collisions.

    The first was near Interstate 83 and South George Street, with unknown injuries; the second was an overturned vehicle in the 6000 block of Blooming Grove Road; and the third was an injury crash in the 6400 block of Davidsburg Road. No serious injuries were reported.

    The minor wrecks continued through the morning, with a number being reported. Injuries were reported with one crash southbound on Interstate 83, with a car into the median wall at the Stewartstown Road overpass, just north of the Maryland line.

    According to State College-based AccuWeather.com, a break in the snow came in the morning but then reappeared in the afternoon, and then again this evening.

    Cameron Penn couldn't understand what all the fuss was about.

    Surrounded by cold air and snowflakes, the toddler, 1, looked up at his mother, Stephanie Penn, who was explaining that the cold, frozen stuff she placed into his little hands was snow.

    "See, it's snow," Stephanie Penn told her son. "It's cold."

    Cameron eyed his mother curiously before reaching down to touch the snow gathered on the family's front lawn in York this morning.

    At first, he drew back from its coldness, but then he settled in, picked up a small handful and tossed it over his head.

    With a toothy grin, Cameron smiled up at his mother having seen his first snow. His mother picked him up and headed to work, joining many on a snowy commute this morning in York County.

    AccuWeather.com reported temperatures were in the low 30s today but are now below freezing.

    Those on the roads are advised to proceed with caution and take extra time to get to their destinations, officials said.

    No snow is forecast for Saturday.