A snowy, frustrating drive

Published 10:29 pm Friday, February 1, 2013

Suffolk saw some winter weather last week — and all the problems that can accompany it.

I have known for a long time that the Southern world seems to come to a screeching stop when the word snow is even mentioned. It is not just Suffolk and Hampton Roads. I can personally vouch that North Carolina and the rest of the South equally freaks out at the possibility of frozen precipitation.

Bread, milk and eggs fly off the shelves at the local grocery stores, and the school delays and closings come flurrying in with prediction of just an inch — or even less.

Email newsletter signup

Nearly three inches of snow accumulated in some areas of Suffolk on Jan. 25. Suffolk police responded to 82 accidents or disabled-vehicle calls between 3 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. Saturday.

One thing I have not experienced is snow in an area as populated at Hampton Roads. The highway traffic, plus snow was a very messy combination — way more than it should have been.

Route 58 came to an utter standstill in Suffolk when Friday rush hour met a steady snowfall.

At one point that night, icy conditions had closed the Route 58 entrance and exit ramps at Pruden Boulevard and Godwin Boulevard, and conditions on Holland Road were being described as treacherous.

My husband tried to leave Chesapeake to head toward Suffolk just before 5 p.m. He didn’t arrive until well after 8 p.m. More than three hours for the usually 40-minute drive is kind of ridiculous.

My husband was not the only person frustrated by the traffic conditions in the area last Friday. Many Suffolk residents felt the city was unprepared.

Public Works Director Eric Nielsen said this Friday that the city learned important lessons in its first chance to use a new brine solution that accompanies equipment the city purchased last year.

He said Suffolk not having its own brine-making machine accounted for part of the delay in treating local roads. The traffic backups after the snow began also made it more difficult for snowplows and spreader trucks loaded with salt and sand to reach the problem areas.

But it wasn’t just Suffolk that had problems during the storm. Neighboring Chesapeake treated its roads in the same way as Suffolk, and it also had to close some bridges, overpasses and ramps, a city spokesman said.

Here’s hoping that this will be a learning experience for the city and other municipalities in Hampton Roads so that the area can be better prepared for icy and snowy conditions in the future.

But the snow didn’t bring all bad news. It also allowed children — and children at heart — to play outside. Many readers submitted their snow pictures to the Suffolk News-Herald, and we used some of them in the newspaper and others online. Please check out our Facebook page for a gallery of all of our submitted snow pictures from the Jan. 25 snowstorm.