A weakening winter storm that crossed the Appalachians yesterday brought just enough snow here last night to cause skids, slides and many minor accidents on slippery streets and roads.
A light dusting of snow that quickly melted and then quickly refroze proved last night's principal hazard. Weather forecasters said some secondary roads, particularly in outlying areas, might still be slippery this morning.
Pedestrians as well as motorists fell victim to last night's slick going. The injured showed up at emergency rooms with complaints that ranged from whiplash to sprained ankles. At Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, 25 snow-related injuries were reported.
As it crossed the mountains and headed toward Washington, the storm brought three to seven inches of snow to many upland sections of northern and western Maryland and Virginia.
Six to seven inches were reported in Garrett County, Md., and five inches near Cumberland, Md. Predictions called for as much as three inches in some areas of suburban Washington.
By late last night many lawns, roofs and car tops in the metropolitan area, displayed a fine dusting of snow. But with the major portion of the storm already past and little more than possible flurries expected in the early morning hours, few more substantial accumulations were reported than the three-tenths of an inch at Dulles Airport.
The snowfall "finished a little more rapidly than anticipated," said National Weather Service forecaster Cliff Crowley.
Films of ice that formed under the wheels of evening rush hour traffic turned roadways treacherous, and at least one area police dispatcher in Fairfax County, said he lost count of the accident reports that flooded his radio.
"Once I got past 15 [that appeared to arrive simultaneously] I quit counting," he said. "There were a lot of multiple-car accidents."
Arlington authorities finally closed the steeply pitched and impassable intersection of Wilson Boulevard and McKinley Street for a time so they could spread sand and clear away the abandoned and disabled vehicles.
Commuters on the Metro system's Blue and Orange lines suffered their own delays, although they were not known to be storm related. A train stalled between the Stadium-Armory and Minnesota Avenue stations during rush hour, holding up thousands of homebound travelers.