Re: Pileups Reported on Snow-Covered Roads (

From: Chuck Murcko (
Date: Thu Feb 22 2001 - 15:49:20 PST

Not surprising, since people think you're slacking if you're more than 10 ft away from the car in front of you. Not to mention suicide merges into those 11+- foot openings. 8^(

ABS brakes and traction control actually help cause this, since most people cannot grasp that wet ice + wet ice still equals very nearly zero coefficient of static friction, much slipperier than teflon. I watched a guy in front of me in a top of the line Volvo do a 360 through an intersection a few years back at about 10 mph. The look on his face told me he had no idea why the ABS didn't "work". You'd need braking rockets or jet thrust reversers to stop abruptly on this kind of surface.

It's why you see this in the Mid-Atlantic states and not so often in places north of that where it's colder and you actually get some stickum from the snow and ice.

But AFAIK this is the record. There was an 80-something pileup in fog in England not long ago, though, that's the next highest I know of.

And BTW, WTF is "black ice"? This term seems to have become popular last decade and I haven't noticed a new phase of water or anything, just the same stuff that's always been frozen on the roads. Or is it some kind of doofus mental aid?

On Thursday, February 22, 2001, at 04:23 PM, Jeffrey Kay wrote:

> This seems a little gruesome, but I just thought everyone out there in the
> rest of the world would be amazed with this -- a 130-car pileup. I can't
> recall ever hearing about that many cars in a single pile-up because of a
> snow storm. Anyone know what the record is?
> jeffrey kay <>
> chief technology officer, engenia software, inc.
> "first get your facts, then you can distort them at your leisure" -- mark
> twain
> "golf is an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle"
> -- sports illustrated
> "if A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y plus Z. X is
> work. Y is play. Z is keep your mouth shut." -- albert einstein
> Pileups Reported on Snow-Covered Roads
> By Leef Smith
> Washington Post Staff Writer
> Thursday, February 22, 2001; 2:56 PM
> Today's snowstorm has caused an accident involving as many as 130 vehicles
> on southbound Interstate 95 in Stafford County.
> The massive wreck, one of many that are snarling traffic in and around the
> Washington area as snow continues to fall heavily in the region, occurred
> around milepost 147, just south of the Prince William County line, according
> to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell.
> There have been injuries in the wreck, which involved somewhere between 114
> and 130 cars and trucks, Caldwell said. Some drivers have abandoned their
> cars along the interstate and Stafford County authorities are setting up
> shelters for stranded motorists, Caldwell added.
> The snow, still falling heavily at mid-afternoon, is the result of a
> low-pressure system barreling out of Tennessee.
> Meteorologists predict the region could be blanketed in from three to six
> inches of snow by mid-evening.
> The white stuff began to fall in Northern Virginia about 10 a.m., causing
> several multi-car pileups in addition to the Stafford crash. Virginia State
> Police officials said sections of several major interstates are closed and
> roadways are paralyzed across the state, including I-81 near Lexington,
> where a fatal 20-vehicle wreck has blocked southbound lanes. Authorities are
> cleaning up wreckage as well as a hazardous spill from one vehicle involved
> in the chain-reaction crash. At least two people are dead, according to the
> Virginia State Police.
> Police were investigating 15 major accidents on Interstates 95, 395 and 495
> in Northern Virginia this morning.
> "I've never seen anything like it," said Virginia State Police spokeswoman
> Lucy Caldwell. "It just came so quick. Motorists are stranded all over. It
> began early, and we're still in the midst of it."
> Police are also working on a 10-car pileup on northbound I-95 at the Prince
> William County Parkway and the outer loop of the Capital Beltway is closed
> at Braddock Road while rescue workers untangle a multi-vehicle crash.
> Schools across the region were quick to call early closings in anticipation
> of heavy accumulations of snow. Classes in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and
> Prince William, Prince George's, Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and
> Frederick counties as well as those in Alexandria and Manassas elementary
> schools are scheduled to close two hours early, with after-school and
> athletic activities canceled for the day.
> Montgomery and St. Mary's counties and Manassas City secondary schools are
> closing two and a half hours early, officials said. Howard County schools
> announced they are closing three hours early.
> Many school districts made their decisions even before the first snowflakes
> started falling in mid-morning. By noon, however, sidewalks and side streets
> were already covered by a thin layer of snow, and the flakes were falling
> steadily.
> The federal government, however, had no plans to shut down earlier.
> "The government is open.... As always, we would assume that individuals are
> making the best decision for themselves," said Sandra Payne, spokeswoman for
> the Office of Personnel Management.
> Employees who wish to leave work early need the approval of their
> supervisor, officials said.
> "County crews have done a good job of keeping the main streets clear, but
> the side streets are getting covered. So, our decision to get those kids out
> of this snow was a prudent one," Montgomery schools spokesman Brian J.
> Porter said. "It's coming down fast and furious right now."
> Metro officials said they have taken the precaution of calling in additional
> rail operators in the event more trains are need.
> Tara Hamilton, spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports
> Authority, said National and Dulles airports continue to operate on treated
> runways.
> "We're seeing some delays and probably some cancellations as the storm
> continues here and elsewhere," Hamilton said, noting that bad weather across
> the country will affect their operations schedule. She encourages air
> travelers to check with their airlines on the status of flights before
> heading to the airport.
> John Newkirk, a program manager for the National Weather Service said snow
> will likely continue to fall until about 8 p.m., affecting areas that
> stretch from Augusta, in west-central Virginia, up to Baltimore and the
> eastern shore. The storm is expected to move quickly, reaching Cape Cod by
> morning.
> "This could be the most snow we've had all year," Newkirk said, noting that
> January saw a total of 2.4 inches. "No doubt about that."
> Washington Post Staff Writers Stephen Barr and Manny Perez contributed to
> this report.

Chuck Murcko
Topsail Group

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