Winter Weather Slicks Roadways, Slows Commutes

Less than a week after a major snow storm hammered Massachusetts, a wintry mix of precipitation slowed travelers throughout the state Tuesday.

Morning snow turned to rain in Greater Boston Tuesday afternoon, while freezing rain continued on for other parts of the state. The slick conditions plagued the morning commute and affected the evening commute, especially in central and western Massachusetts, where rain turned to ice.

"Temperatures are mainly in the mid-30s, so it's just going to be a cold rain (in Boston)," said WCVB-TV meteorologist David Brown. "I'm not saying we can't have some slippery going on some of the secondary roads, but for the most part, it's just a cold rain event."

Joanne Massaro, of the Boston Public Works Commission, said she hopes secondary streets will be clear by late afternoon.

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"The evening commute might be difficult, not so much because of the road conditions but because there may be heavy rain," Massaro said. "That's what's being predicted, and so people should probably just be cautious driving home. It may not be slippery, but it will be wet."

"There's so much snow still sitting on the ground and by the roads and whatnot, there's still a lot of clogged storm drains, so it's going to be an awful lot of water just sitting on the roadways," said meteorologist Alan Dunham, with the National Weather Service in Taunton.

State Highway Administrator Luisa Paiewonsky said about 2,500 trucks were spreading salt and sand.

"We'll be spending the afternoon spreading anti-icing materials all over the road, but we want to just caution people to take it slow on the way home," she said.

The storm made for treacherous driving conditions in the morning Tuesday. At one point, all westbound lanes of the Mass Pike from Charlton were closed after a tractor-trailer jackknifed. No one was seriously injured.

"It seems almost worse than it was in last week's storm because there's a lot more traffic and I don't think the plows got out as early," said WBUR's Deborah Becker from the road late Tuesday morning. "So a lot of the side roads were not even passable." She estimated she had driven 2 miles over the course of one hour.

The wintry weather delayed and canceled dozens of flights at Logan Airport and caused delays on MBTA buses and on the commuter rail.

Many schools and evening programs canceled classes Tuesday.

The storm may have also led to the traffic deaths of two Rhode Island men.

Police are investigating if weather caused a crash that killed 40-year-old Marco Vargos and 27-year-old Hugo Leonel Garcia, both of Woonsocket, when their car struck a tractor-trailer in Douglas, Mass., at about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Chief Patrick Foley said it had just started snowing.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

This program aired on January 18, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.


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