Snow falls as predicted

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 18, 2003

The winter storm that cancelled schools across Hampton Roads Friday dumped 1/2-inch to 1-1/2-inches of snow in Suffolk overnight Thursday.

Whaleyville woke up to find about 1/2-inch of snow covering the community, said Capt. Jim Judkins, the city’s emergency services coordinator. Nearby Holland and northern Suffolk received an inch or so more than Whaleyville.

There were few minor weather-related accidents overnight Thursday or early Friday, said Officer Chuck Terrell, a spokesman for the Suffolk Police Department.


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&uot;Thursday was a quiet night in Suffolk,&uot; Terrell said, adding that the Virginia Department of Transportation had the major highways in Suffolk clear by 4 a.m.

But the slushy roads became increasingly dangerous Friday as the temperatures began to spiral downward. Temperatures, which were in the lows 30s at 6 a.m. Friday, had plunged to the mid-20s by noon, Judkins said.

The National Weather Service predicted that Friday night would be the coldest night in Virginia so far this winter, with temperatures plunging to single digits and low teens across much of the state, and about zero in the mountains. The wind chill would make it feel colder.

&uot;Right now, we have some traction,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;The freeze is probably going to make walking and driving pretty treacherous.

&uot;The biggest problems are going to be the back roads,&uot; he continued. &uot;People are going to have to be extra careful on those roads for awhile.&uot;

The fast-moving snowstorm swept through Virginia overnight dumped as much as 8 inches of snow in some parts of the state.

Snowfall amounts ranged from an inch or two in Hampton Roads and Southside Virginia, up to 3 inches in northern Virginia, 4 inches in the Richmond and Roanoke areas and as much as 7 or 8 inches in the Northern Neck region and in the mountains of southwest Virginia.

VDOT crews plowed interstates and primary roads during the night and worked on secondary roads Friday. VDOT reported that roads in central Virginia had some slick spots, but were mostly clear. Snow and ice covered many roads west of Interstate 81, as well as roads between Charlottesville and Richmond and east of Fredericksburg.

VDOT was counting on sunshine Friday to help chemicals melt snow and ice on the roads. But in western Virginia, cold temperatures and high winds hampered snow removal on parts of Interstate 81 and other major roads.

&uot;Low temperatures are keeping the snow packed down on the primary roads. Drifting is causing problems on the interstate, so we’re having to divert crews from the primaries back to the interstate to keep it clear,&uot; said Jason Bond, a VDOT spokesman in Salem.

&uot;We’re making progress, but it’s very slow. People are going to have to be patient, because this snow is going to be here for a while and will stay packed-down on some roads until the weather cooperates.&uot;

Road crews in the region were experimenting with a new chemical-spreading method. Bond said that pre-wetting the solid chemicals coming out of the spreaders &uot;jump-starts&uot; the chemical reaction, so that it works faster, even in cold temperatures.

Bond said VDOT is mostly using the new technique on interstates and hopes to expand its use to other districts in the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.