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HIT AND RUN SNOW SQUALL

While traveling along the stretch of Interstate 90 in northeastern Ohio known as “The Snow Belt”, the driver of an overnight delivery service truck encountered a blinding snow squall. The snow reduced the visibility to a mere few feet in a matter of moments.  The truck went into an uncontrollable spin on the snow-slicked roadway, causing a chain reaction pile-up involving a dozen vehicles.  Several drivers were injured and many of the vehicles were total losses.  The snow passed as quickly as it came in, and by the time emergency vehicles arrived on the scene the sun was out and shining brightly.  To add insult to injury, the police issued a ticket to the truck driver for not driving in a manner that was safe according to conditions.

The law firm working on behalf of the insurance carrier that covered the delivery company contacted CompuWeather.  The attorney handling the case wanted to verify what the driver had stated, and present that evidence in traffic court.  He felt that if the driver could be exonerated, it would help matters if, and when lawsuits were filed by other drivers involved in the accident.  The CompuWeather meteorologist assigned to reconstructing the weather went to work.  He examined the observations from several surrounding locations nearest to the site of the accident, as well as Doppler radar imagery, satellite photos and storm spotter reports.  The information clearly showed that a well defined line of heavy snow developed on the south shore of Lake Erie and moved rapidly in a southeasterly fashion.  This brought the line of snow across the Interstate right at the exact time the truck and other vehicles were passing by.  The intensity of the snow was such that the meteorologist was able to state that the visibility would have gone from “unrestricted” just before the snow squall hit, to “near zero” in a matter of just moments.  And because the snow came down fast and furious, the roadway surface would have become quite hazardous within the first moments after the squall began.  All of this was consistent with what the delivery driver had stated.

During traffic court, the attorney presented the findings of the forensic report prepared by CompuWeather. The judge rendered his verdict in favor of the defendant, as it was determined that the suddenness of the snow would not have allowed any driver time to react behind the wheel of the truck.  Subsequent claims against the delivery company by the other drivers involved in the accident were settled in a favorable fashion, thanks to the verdict in traffic court which limited the liability for the driver and his company.