Suffolk spared serious snow

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 9, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

The coldest air of the season took Hampton Roads by storm Friday as temperatures dropped like a rock and snow fell softly to the ground. The wind chill factor caused the air to feel like the mercury was positioned at &uot;0,&uot; and although some snow stuck on grassy spots it quickly dissipated where it hit pavement.

Several local drivers failed to maintain control of their vehicles yesterday, and according to Suffolk Police Lieutenant Debbie J. George, there was an increase in the number of accidents across the city. Fortunately, she said, the accidents were considered only fender benders with no serious injuries.

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With snow falling steadily Friday morning, Suffolk Public Schools closed the middle and high schools at 11 a.m., and elementary schools dismissed at noon, having lunch before leaving school.

Bethanne Bradshaw, public information coordinator for the schools, said there were no bus or roadway problems, thanks to a good job by VDOT employees. Since students missed only half a day, and they will be glad to know that no makeup day is required.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy remained open.

Snow fell into the early part of afternoon, and a winter weather advisory remained in effect until 4 p.m., with light to moderate snow continuing across Suffolk, Hampton Roads, and from Holland and Whaleyville south to encompass northeastern N.C.

Suffolk Emergency Management Coordinator Captain James T. Judkins said Friday that residents should look for partly sunny skies today with highs reaching only into the upper 20s, and it will be breezy with north winds 15 to 20 mph. Skies will clear toward evening and winds will make it feel like 3 below to 7 above zero, said Judkins.

Sunday will be mostly sunny and the temperature will soar into the mid-30s, but northwest winds 5 to 10 mile per hour will put wind chill readings at 1 below to 9 above zero.

&uot;Roads, bridges and overpasses were under careful watch by VDOT,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;Abrasives and sand are being scattered as needed, especially on bridges and overpasses. Thus far, we have been fortunate that we’ve only had several fender benders. We ask that drivers continue to use extreme caution.&uot;

&uot;Accumulations of snow or ice on bridges and overpasses make travel treacherous,&uot; said Erica Johnson, of VDOT. &uot;We ask that drivers exercise caution if travel is necessary. Weather like this can sorely test the nerves and skills of even the most experienced drivers.&uot;

VDOT offered several tips to help people drive safely as the weather turns cold:

— Keep your car’s windows, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice.

— Always wear your safety belt.

— Check your brakes and tires

— Check your battery and ignition system

— Check your antifreeze and thermostat

— Check your windshield wipers and de-icing washer fluid

— Check your headlights, tail/brake lights, blinkers and emergency flashers

— Check your exhaust system, heater and defroster Check your oil

— Properly lubricate door locks that may be prone to freezing

— Leave a few minutes early to allow extra time to get to your destination.

— Start out slowly in the lowest gear recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

— Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges.

— Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles that are plowing the road.

— Don’t pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary.

— Don’t park along the street. Snowplow drivers can’t fully clear a road if cars are in their way.

— Before beginning your trip, know the current road conditions and weather forecast. For statewide highway information 24-hours-a-day, call the Highway Helpline at 1-800-367-ROAD, a free nationwide.