Snow blankets Suffolk

Published 5:59 pm Saturday, January 30, 2010

Suffolk resident Jack Kress spent some time outdoors Saturday morning, enjoying the opportunity to take care of some needed yard work. But it may not have been the yard work he was used to.

Kress and many of his neighbors found themselves shoveling snow off their driveways, walkways and patios Saturday as a significant snowstorm rushed through the Hampton Roads area.

In Suffolk, early reports put snow totals above six inches, with some areas receiving more.

Email newsletter signup

“I don’t mind it too much,” Kress said, shoveling snow from the driveway while wearing a Santa hat. “It’s pretty good exercise.”

Although Kress, his neighbors and the dozens of children riding sleds and playing in the snow throughout the Riverview neighborhood seemed not to mind the snow, others were not having nearly as much fun.

In fact, the Suffolk Police Department reported a total of 17 accidents between of midnight and 2 p.m., with nine of those taking place after 7 a.m. No serious injuries were reported.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue reported only one significant incident, which occurred at about 1 p.m., when the awning over the gas pumps at the Happy Shopper Convenience Store at 600 E. Washington St. collapsed onto an unoccupied vehicle. No injuries were reported, but the store was closed for safety purposes.

Roads conditions were sketchy throughout the day, with light to moderate traffic reported and drivability largely dependent on whether the city’s plows or spreaders had been through recently. By mid-afternoon, with a steady, wind-driven sleet falling, city officials were saying that primary roadways were “passable but still considered dangerous.”

According to a city press release, Suffolk’s emergency operations center opened at 7 a.m. Saturday, with 23 trucks working with plows and spreaders around the city. The teams were concentrating their efforts on primary roads only until those roads could be cleared. They then planned to move to secondary roads, but roads in many of the city’s neighborhoods showed only tire tracks by Saturday afternoon.

The National Weather Service cited a report from a storm spotter in Driver at 11:15 a.m. that the community had received six inches of snow, with precipitation still falling at that time.

Meteorologist Eric Seymour, working from the NWS’ Wakefield office, said at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday that snow and sleet were expected to alternate throughout the day until the precipitation gradually tapered off around midnight. Sunday, he said should be cold.

“But at least the sun will be out,” he added.

The fine, powdery snow that fell across the region seemed to have caused few problems with the electrical grid, as Dominion Power was reported only isolated cases of disrupted power throughout the state by mid-afternoon Saturday.

At 2 p.m., there were only two reports of lost power in Suffolk and one in Isle of Wight. Pockets of outages in other Hampton Roads communities had affected no more than a few dozen customers.

Suffolk was ready for the snow on Friday night, according to city spokesperson Debbie George, who sent a press release early Friday evening stating that City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn had declared a local emergency in advance of the coming severe weather.

The city’s four-wheel-drive vehicles had all been made available for public responses, salt/sand spreaders and plows were on standby, motor graders had been made available to assist with plowing, and five loaders were put in place to load the trucks with a salt and sand mixture, George stated in her release.

The city also announced Friday evening that all city parks and recreation centers would be closed both Saturday and Sunday and that all city-sponsored athletic events that had been scheduled for the weekend had been cancelled.

–Managing Editor Res Spears contributed to this report.