Yet another devastating light freezing rain event demonstrates the tragic and crippling nature of this underrated weather phenomenon. This time, the northeastern US was affected, with high-impact road icing from Baltimore through New England. New Jersey, New York and eastern Pennsylvania were hit particularly hard by this system. Countless multi-vehicle pileups occurred around the region, particularly in the Philadelphia area. New Jersey alone reported 428 accidents across the state. For the first time I'm aware of, a light freezing rain event has been given a "name" in media coverage: Icezilla.
The death toll right now is at 8 (5 in Pennsylvania, 1 in New Jersey, 1 in Maryland and 1 in Connecticut). As with most events, I expect this number to rise in the next 24-48 hours as more reports come in.
Freezing rain is one of the worst types of weather phenomena, frequently surpassing tornado outbreaks and all types of severe weather events in damage, injuries and fatalities. Icy roads of all types are responsible for at least twice the number of deaths and injuries than from all types of severe weather combined (tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, wind): see the statistics.
"Icezilla" accidents caught on video
This event was also remarkable in the number of incidents caught on video by local residents. Being in the "right place at the right time" to catch footage like this is rare, even for a cameraman like me who spends many days per year covering the icy road hazard. The fact that seven separate bystander videos showed up from this single event is another testament to how widespread and severe it was.
Semi accident barely misses car, New Jersey: Youtube
Snowplow crashes into a guardrail, Connecticut: Youtube
SUV slides down a hill and crashes, Yonkers, NY: Youtube