A quick burst of snow led to a number of serious problems on highways around the region Thursday morning.
Two of the big trouble spots were Interstate 78 in northern Berks County and the Pennsylvania Turnpike between the Morgantown and Reading interchanges.
I-78 East was closed between mileposts 35 and 40; the westbound side of the highway was shut down around milepost 40 for an accident involving multiple vehicles.
Forty-four people were injured in the wrecks, said a deputy chief with the Kutztown Fire Company, who added that 25 of them required transport to area hospitals for treatment of their injuries.
Thirteen of the victims were trapped in eight vehicles, and two of them suffered life-threatening injuries, he said.
The accidents prompted authorities to declare a "mass casualty incident," calling for multiple emergency crews to respond or stand by to assist. Area hospitals were notified to expect an influx of patients.
The Berks County Communications Center asked drivers to avoid I-78 until the wrecked vehicles could be removed and the highway cleared of any remaining snow and ice.
As for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, multiple accidents were reported between the Morgantown and Reading interchanges.
The westbound lanes of the turnpike between those interchanges were closed for much of the day before reopening shortly before 5:30 p.m.