PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Freezing rain turned to ice and blanketed Beaver County roads, causing icy and treacherous driving conditions early Wednesday morning.
The sudden change of weather conditions caught many drivers off guard, causing several people to careen off the road and slam into guard rails.
PennDOT officials say the trouble spots were in southern Allegheny County and northern Beaver County.
“Right around 5 o’clock, we got a flash freeze, and the roads, the little bit of mist that was out there froze over and the roads became pretty slick,” said PennDOT District 11 Executive Cheryl Moon-Sirianni.
KDKA’s Meghan Schiller caught up with Dave Homol as he stood along the Beaver Valley Expressway. His car was totaled.
“I was just driving, and all of the sudden, I hit a patch of black ice and the car just immediately spun, and I tried to do what I could, went right into the guardrail and spun around several times,” said motorist Dave Homol.
Miraculously, he was not injured in the crash.
Homol said he called 911 and learned from dispatchers that he was not the only crash that happened along that stretch of roadway. KDKA saw several other cars pulled over along the shoulder with their flashers turned on. Several drivers stood behind their vehicles, keeping a barrier between them and the passing traffic.
Homol said he crashed around 5 a.m. and he was driving his company car.
“The whole front end is damaged, the back end is damaged from hitting the guard rail so it’s probably a totaled car,” he said.
“I hit the ice and started spinning and just held on until I was sitting in the middle of the highway.”
People stranded on I-376 right now as icy conditions are causing several spin-outs!
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) January 16, 2019
PennDOT brought in extra salt trucks to help alleviate some of the icy conditions. KDKA counted a half dozen trucks throwing salt on every exit ramp in the area, hoping to melt the ice coating the roads and guard rails.
Moon-Sirianni said they had crews out all night, with double crews that started at 4 a.m., but it was the unexpected nature of the event that caused the problems.
“I think more of the concern is that I don’t think a lot of people expected it. It was just a fine mist, not an actual snow. I don’t think they expected the roads to be as icy,” she said.
WATCH: Interview with PennDOT’s Cheryl Moon-Sirianni —
At a gas station just off the Monaca exit, Joe Laird was trying to scrape ice off of his car.
“I was like holy crap,” said Laird. “I didn’t expect that much ice to be on there.”
He needed gas before hopping on the Expressway, but said his car looked like an ice cube Wednesday morning.
In Allegheny County, an accident shut down Wildwood Road in Hampton Township. The road had to be closed between Route 8 and Bella Vista Drive after the rollover crash.
A tow truck was brought in to upright the Nissan that crashed.
Additional salt trucks are also being brought into that area.
— Celina Pompeani (@CelinaPompeani) January 16, 2019
On Mount Washington, several crashes were being reported on Cuthbert Street due to the icy conditions.
In Indiana County, state police shut down state Route 22 at state Route 403 because of a two-vehicle crash. No injuries were reported, but state police were called to the scene.
UPDATE: One E/B lane and one W/B lane of SR 22 are now open to traffic. https://t.co/wniV3I9n4Q
— Troop A Public Information Officers (@PSPTroopAPIO) January 16, 2019
PennDOT is asking drivers to take it slow today, especially because, with the temperature hovering around freezing, there is the potential the roads could refreeze.
“We have to tell folks that it is winter, and that they really have to slow down when it’s dark out,” Moon-Sirianni said.
A Winter Weather Advisory extends through noon because of the freezing drizzle. Numerous school districts across the region have issued delays and closures because of the road conditions.
PennDOT is advising drivers to be especially careful on side roads as well.
Stay with KDKA for the latest on the road conditions.