Snow day in Suffolk

Published 9:32 pm Thursday, February 26, 2015

Noah Weaver slides on a sled down a hill next to Kings Fork Road. He, his two sisters and his uncle competed to see who could go the furthest

Noah Weaver slides on a sled down a hill next to Kings Fork Road. He, his two sisters and his uncle competed to see who could go the furthest

By Matthew A. Ward,

Staff Writer

And R.E. Spears III,

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Suffolk got another good dose of snow Wednesday night and into Thursday morning, but by early next week, barely a trace is expected to remain.

How much snow fell depended on where citizens live. Bill Sammler, a meteorologist with the National Service in Wakefield, citied falls ranging from 5 to 7 inches.

Areas closer to North Carolina received less, and those closer to the James River got more, he said.

The city’s Department of Emergency Management reported slightly heftier totals of 6 to 8 inches.

According to Sammler, there are “fundamental reasons” Wednesday’s storm seemed to cause fewer issues than the one on President’s Day, despite higher accumulations.

Conditions on Wednesday were warmer than those leading up to the Feb. 16 event.

“Our roads were relatively warm at the start of the snow,” Sammler said, and the mercury never dropped below 32 degrees, whereas before it got colder.

“There’s a chance of rain early next week and temperatures will warm, so the snow will be gone probably by Tuesday, if not a little bit sooner,” he added.

Local and state officials are still warning of significant potential for refreezing at night, however, at least until the low temperature rises a little on Sunday night to 34.

Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink also attributed improved road conditions to some changes in the way public works crews pre-treated the road.

While roads were treated with the same brine solution as always, a coloring agent similar to food color was added this time, giving the plowed snow a blue tint that didn’t go unnoticed.

It allows crews to “visually identify how the treatment was going on and how it was adhering to the roads,” Klink stated. “As an added benefit, drivers can see that we are pre-treating and hopefully it will remind them to slow down.”

Pre-treatment capability has been ramped up the past few years, Klink stated. Three brine trucks were on the job this week, spreading solution the crews had mixed, making treating roads more economical.

“It is our desire to pre-treat all primary roads and bridges before a snow/ice event,” Klink stated. “We were able to do that for this event, and I believe that you can see how effective pre-treatment can be.

“Of course, not all storms allow for pre-treatment. Storms that start out as rain and transition to snow can wash our brine solution off, rendering it ineffective.”

As of late Thursday afternoon, crews had also spread 726 tons of abrasives.

During a stop at the Food Lion on Bridge Road at about 10 a.m., postal carrier Dave Warren described the road conditions as “pretty bad.”

“One of the roads back there,” he said, pointing down Lee Farm Lane, “didn’t even have tracks, so I couldn’t go down it.”

Warren said he and the other postal carriers would continue their rounds “until they call us back or there’s too many accidents, and they determine it’s not safe.”

David Wells of Smithfield Power Sweeping was plowing the parking lot at the same shopping center. He’d been doing it since midnight Wednesday, he said, and he expected to be on the job until midnight Thursday.

“There’s a lot more snow” than what fell in last week’s storm, he said. “But there’s not three or four inches of ice on top. This is good snow-cream snow.”

Across the city, folks were clearing driveways, walkways and parking lots.

In the Governor’s Pointe neighborhood, three teenage boys were offering their snow-shoveling services. It was $10 to clear a walkway and $20 to $30 to shovel a driveway, reported Stuart Resor, a resident.

Traffic around Suffolk was very light into Thursday morning after most motorists heeded advice to stay off roads. Klink reported only a handful of minor accidents with no injuries and calls for disabled motorists.

Enjoying another day off work and school, many Suffolk residents took advantage of the deep, fluffy and compactible snow to do enjoy favorite winter activities.

Snowmen popped up all around the city, with Disney’s “Frozen” presenting itself as the leading theme and warm-weather icons running a close second.

In Huntersville, two Coast Guardsmen took it up a notch, building a snow fort in their front yard.

“We said last night that if it snowed 12 inches, we’d build a fort,” Chief George Keener said.

Even though that part of Suffolk fell three or four inches of the one-foot mark, Keener and Chief Sean Fullwood decided to alleviate the boredom of a homebound day with a construction project that included parapets and enough room for both big men to duck behind the four-foot walls to avoid any errant snowballs that might have been thrown their way.

Even in mostly flat Hampton Roads, folks found places where they could enjoy a bit of sledding.

A large group congregated along the guardrail at the top of the Pughsville ramp to I-664, taking advantage of one of the biggest and steepest hills in the area, ending in a long and protected slide-out zone that was nonetheless adjacent to the highway.

In the Riverfront community in North Suffolk, a group a neighbors enjoyed sledding and building snowmen in a neighborhood park with gentler slopes and no chance of being rousted by police or highway officials.

“Don’t tell anybody our secret spot,” one man told a reporter.