Pre-winter storm has area bracing for a blast

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 6, 2002

At 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Interstate 81in central Virginia was designated as &uot;treacherous&uot; because of the weather. Predicting what was about to take place was just about as risky because as Suffolk Fire Department Captain Jim Judkins said, winter weather is just as unpredictable as summer storms.

Judkins, who also serves as Suffolk’s Emergency Management coordinator, spent much of yesterday studying weather information coming in from across the state.

&uot;We’re pretty much on track with predictions of a mixture of rain, snow, sleet and freezing rain headed our way,&uot; he said. &uot;By morning it will dwindle down to plain old rain before it ends.&uot;

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Judkins added that weather predictions from the National Weather Service showed ice mixed with snow headed for the Carolinas.

At around 6 p.m. Wednesday the precipitation had begun as sleet mixed with snow.

Weather forecasters were saying yesterday that it is expected to turn to rain as Thursday wears on, however, that rain may turn into ice on roadways. Drivers are cautioned to be aware &uot;black ice,&uot; or ice that looks like the roadway.

Judkins also noted that Suffolk and surrounding area could see as much as a total of one inch of precipitation and a light coating of ice, up to one-quarter inch thick. Southampton County is looking at a possible one to two inches total precipitation.

&uot;Areas affected will include Suffolk, Isle of Wight County and Gates County, N.C.,&uot; he said. &uot;Snow began falling in Charlottesville early Wednesday and that area is expected to get up to eight inches. These snow showers are like summer rain showers and difficult to predict. You may get more or less than predicted in different areas, so the best thing to do is remain in if at all possible and don’t drive unless absolutely necessary.&uot;

As of yesterday evening, the thermometer had dropped to 32 degrees Fahrenheit, with the mercury expected to climb to 40 degrees on Thursday. By Friday, it’s expected to reach 44 degrees, and look out for the weekend. That’s when a &uot;heat wave&uot; will arrive bringing temperatures to a mild 50 degrees.