An out-of-the-blue spring snowstorm walloped Carbon, Schuylkill and Luzerne counties late Tuesday. In some areas, several inches of snow covered a glaze of ice, causing dozens of accidents and closing the northbound lanes of Route 309 about a mile south of McAdoo for well over an hour after two tractor trailers got stuck in the heavy, wet snow at about 5:30 p.m.
The wind-driven storm that ushered out March came as a surprise as drivers headed home from work or school on what they expected to be just a rainy afternoon.
Nesquehoning police closed Route 93 for two hours after a rollover accident. Lincoln Drive in Rush Township was closed, and there was a reported fatal crash near Route 309 and Belle Vista Drive in Dorrance Township.
Rush Township Police Chief Duane Frederick said the unexpected snowfall caused accidents, including one on Meadow Avenue when a school bus sideswiped a car because, he said, the bus driver could not see through fogged windows. There were children on the bus, but no one was hurt. The car had to be towed. Also, a woman escaped injury when her car rolled several times near Lake Hauto, he said.
Large trucks were stuck on Route 309 north of Hometown and had to be towed by specially-equipped tow trucks.
The storm, reminiscent of the unexpected Oct. 16 snowfall that blanketed the region, even took weather forecasters by surprise, said meteorologist Greg Heavener of the National Weather Service in Mt. Holly, N.J.
"We didn't expect that it would get cold enough for it to hit the ground," he said.
Meteorologists expected rain to fall all day across the region, Heavener said.
"The atmospheric profile didn't look conducive to snow," he said.
Heavener said early spring snowstorms aren't rare.
"It's still the transition between seasons it's a tumultuous time of year," he said.
The storm also blindsided the state Department of Transportation.
"It wasn't expected, I think it did surprise everybody," said PennDOT spokesman Sean Brown.
PennDOT swung into action quickly, though and had 11 trucks out in Carbon County by 1 p.m. and 30 out in Schuylkill County by 12:30 p.m.
There were several minor accidents reported on the Pennsylvania Turnpike from the Mahoning Valley exit north, but no serious injuries.
As quickly as the snow fell, it will melt: summer-like temperatures expected later this week will make it but a cool memory.
Forecasters are calling for sunny skies and daytime temperatures to reach the high 70s by the weekend.