With a mixture of a power outage, rush hour and a WVU home basketball game, Mother Nature used the main ingredient – rapidly falling snow — to brew a dangerous concoction Monday.
As the snow began to pound Morgantown Monday afternoon, a single vehicle slammed into a utility pole along Van Voorhis Road between Southview Street and Killarney Drive. The accident knocked down power lines and sent the area into a blackout for the next several hours as Mon Power crews worked to replace the lines.
What followed was a perfect storm for chaos.
Without power, traffic lights along Patteson Drive and Van Voorhis did not operate. Street lights and businesses were also in the dark.
“It was kind of like that ‘perfect time,’” Mike Wolfe the director of MECCA 911, said. “There was already a lot of traffic out there. There were things going on out there that brought more traffic into the city.”
“We had a lot of things working against us.”
Emergency crews spent the afternoon and evening responding to calls for assistance after accidents piled up.
“The snow started coming down pretty quickly at 2:30 or 3 o’clock, and the roads were covered quickly, obviously causing some vehicle accidents,” Wolfe said. “Mostly fender benders, some motorist assists where motorists couldn’t make it and needed assistance.”
Wolfe said there were no major accidents or injuries.
The biggest problems happened on Patteson and Van Voorhis where motorists struggled to manage without traffic lights, Wolfe said. Traffic was brought to a halt and snow plows with the Division of Highways were unable to treat the roadway.
“With the amount of traffic that was on the road — because it was rush hour time in Morgantown — it’s very hard to get our street crews out there to get those roads clear,” Wolfe said.
Accidents were reported on I-79, I-68 and around the area. Area schools were closed by 8 p.m. Monday.
The snow slowed by 9 p.m. and crews began to clear the roadways. Temperatures are expected to warm later in the week.