UPDATE 7:15 p.m. EST: The death toll rose to five Sunday as "flash freezing" slicked roads and sidewalks in the Northeast and caused a 30- to 50-car pileup on Interstate 76 near Philadelphia, the Associated Press reported.
Sunday is proving to be a treacherous day to leave the house as icy weather, accidents and highway closures ravage roadways in cities across the United States.
A wave of freezing rain swept through several states in the northeast Sunday, leading to accidents on two roadways in Pennsylvania. A car crash on Interstate 76, near Philadelphia, caused 30 to 50 vehicles to pile up on the highway early Sunday, resulting in one death, state police said, according to the Associated Press. Another crash involving multiple cars on the state's Interstate 476 reportedly killed two others.
Officials cited freezing rain and icy roads as a cause for the accidents, and warned of “very hazardous” conditions for drivers. In Pennsylvania’s Bucks County, just north of Philadelphia, government officials reported more than 100 accidents Sunday morning.
— NBC10 Philadelphia (@NBCPhiladelphia) January 18, 2015
New Jersey transportation spokesman Steve Schapiro also reported multiple accidents along the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, citing more than 200 car crashes early Sunday. Officials lowered speed limits along those roads and closed the Pallisades Parkway, which connects to New York City’s George Washington Bridge. Schapiro said roads in New Jersey were being salted to prevent the rain from freezing on the pavement, but warned people to avoid driving.
“We continue to treat the roads aggressively, but we need people to stay home,” he told USA Today. “We had black ice almost everywhere and roads are treacherous.”
428 reported accidents & 186 aids in NJSP patrolled areas. Closures and speed restrictions remain in effect. #Icyroads
â€” NJSP - State Police (@NJSP) January 18, 2015
Officials from the Delaware River Port Authority also closed four bridges Sunday morning to allow workers to treat the roads. By noon, however, they announced the bridges were reopened. Meanwhile, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority announced delays on public transit.
On the West Coast, strong winds also took their toll on traffic near Seattle. The Hood Canal Bridge was closed for an hour Sunday morning due to adverse weather conditions, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. It reopened at 9:00 a.m. local time (12 p.m. EST).
Meanwhile, Puget Sound Energy reported about 230 power outages in the state due to the wind storm, affecting an estimated 29,000 customers, hours ahead of the NFC conference championship game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers. The company announced on Twitter Sunday morning that it would be in “beastmode” to restore power to the affected households - a sly reference to Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who has taken the nickname Beast Mode.
Crews will be in "beastmode" to assess damage and restore as many customers as quickly as we can.
â€” Puget Sound Energy (@PSETalk) January 18, 2015