Meltdown begins

Published 8:18 pm Monday, February 1, 2010

If Punxsutawney Phil the groundhog poked his head out in Suffolk today, would he predict six more weeks of winter? With the snow and ice still on the ground, he might just choose to stay in his hole.

Despite the 12-hour shifts Suffolk Public Works crews spent beginning on Saturday clearing the inches of snow Suffolk received, events and schools are still cancelled today.

Downtown Suffolk received five inches of snow on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

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“Because of icy road conditions, Suffolk Public Schools is closed for all students and staff on Tuesday,” said Bethanne Bradshaw, SPS public information officer. “While major roads have been cleared, most neighborhoods and back roads are still too dangerous for buses.”

Suffolk city offices will open on a two-hour delay.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy will be closed.

Due to the snow and ice, between Saturday morning and Monday morning, there were 85 vehicle accidents, including 15 with injuries.

“The Suffolk Police Department and Suffolk Department of Public Works advise that roadways are still icy and driving conditions are dangerous,” a Suffolk press release stated on Sunday. “They are requesting that citizens assist them by staying off the roadways, if at all possible.”

Public Works crews were working around the clock to get the roads cleared.

They placed a priority on primary roadways — those with route numbers lower than 600, such as Bridge Road, Godwin Boulevard, Nansemond Parkway, Portsmouth Boulevard, Carolina Highway, Holland Road, Route 58 Bypass, Main Street and East Washington Street.

Public Works had anticipated clearing the major secondary roadways early Sunday but crews were still clearing primary roadways on Sunday. Secondary and neighborhood streets were to be plowed after all primary streets are cleared.

The city originally had stated snowplows would clear neighborhood streets and rural roadways by late Sunday or Monday, but the time frame was dependent upon Public Works efforts to ensure the primary roadways and major secondary roadways were cleared.

Because of the continuing weather problems, the U.S. Postal Service reminded customers to clear a safe, accessible path to their mailboxes.

“Make sure the mailbox itself is visible and free of snow and ice, and make sure it is safely accessible for your letter carrier,” a USPS press release stated. “Clear your mailbox area of snow, sleet, slush, ice and debris. If mailboxes are blocked off or conditions are too difficult, letter carriers must consider safety and accessibility first. Letter carriers are instructed not to deliver to mailboxes and locations they consider having access too difficult or unsafe.”