Snow dusts region, cancels school

Published 7:25 pm Monday, March 2, 2009

Ice and snow that fell throughout the region late Sunday and early Monday gave Suffolk students and school employees a day off on Monday. But the weather conditions kept police, emergency crews and public works and utilities employees busy throughout the day.

All of the city’s public and private schools were closed Monday because of ice and snow that had built up on Suffolk’s roads throughout the night.

Following two days of heavy rain, conditions turned worse late Sunday night, as temperatures dropped and the precipitation turned to sleet and freezing rain. Light snow was reported at the Suffolk Airport at about 2 a.m. and continued through the morning, with flurries throughout the day on Monday. Temperatures fell throughout the night and never climbed above 30 degrees all day, according to the National Weather Service.

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The conditions proved to be more than some drivers could handle.

Police responded to 20 different accidents between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m., according to Suffolk spokeswoman Debbie George. Most of those wrecks were minor in nature — fender benders and vehicles in ditches — she said in an e-mail Monday afternoon.

Despite the weekend’s heavy rain, Suffolk Public Works employees were able to prepare much of the city’s asphalt surfaces for the slippery mix that arrived Monday morning, George said in an e-mail.

“Public works was well prepared,” she wrote. Employees “had planned on Friday for the possibility of the storm. They had all primary roads — 58, 13, 32, 460, etc. — treated before rush hour, and in 98 percent of the cases, the roads were bare pavement before 9 a.m.”

The effort began about 3:45 a.m., when crews started applying about 360 tons of salt, using 20 trucks and 50 workers, she wrote. Employees spent the afternoon hours on Monday checking and clearing secondary roads of isolated spots of snow and ice.

There were scattered reports of power outages throughout the night Sunday and into Monday, according to a Dominion Virginia Power Web site. By 6 p.m. Monday, only 525 Southeast Virginia customers still were without power. All power had been restored in Suffolk by that time.

Suffolk Public Schools spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said Monday afternoon that it was likely that the city’s school system would be back in session on Tuesday. No further snowfall was expected, she said, and most of Suffolk’s roads were likely to be clear, except for an occasional “bad spot.”

“We know where those bad spots are, and we can even route the buses around them,” she said.

Boys’ and girls’ Eastern Region High School Championship basketball games, which had been scheduled for Monday night at Churchland High School, were rescheduled for Wednesday because of the inclement weather.

The boys’ game, now set for 8 p.m. Wednesday, features King’s Fork and Booker T. Washington high schools.