Snow days continue in Suffolk

Published 7:55 pm Thursday, January 4, 2018

Winter Storm Grayson brought a blizzard to Suffolk Wednesday and Thursday, and the snow is expected to stick around for the remainder of the week.

Suffolk and the rest of southeastern Virginia was hit with approximately 8 to 12 inches of snow accumulation, according to Mike Rusnak, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

While the snow stopped falling Thursday afternoon, frigid temperatures — with highs between 20 and 29 — will keep the snow from melting throughout the weekend.

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“Wind chill is down near zero, if not below zero,” Rusnak said. “Temperatures will not get above freezing until Monday. The snow is here to stay for a while.”

Public Works crews were working around the clock in 12-hour shifts to clear primary roadways and some problematic secondary roadways, according to a press release from the city of Suffolk.

About 550 tons of salt and sand had been applied as of 5:30 a.m. Thursday. Salt, however, is not effective once temperatures fall below 15 degrees, the press release stated.

Suffolk police responded to 12 accidents from Wednesday night to Thursday morning, according to the press release, and they attribute this low number to the fact that citizens are heeding their warnings to stay off the roads.

“They remind our citizens to stay off the roads, as it allows their crews to do their jobs more quickly and more efficiently and keeps our roadways accessible for emergency vehicles,” the press release stated. “Blowing snow is also causing very low visibility, making it even more dangerous for drivers.”

Dominion Energy spokeswoman Bonita Billingsley Harris said 23 Dominion Energy customers in Suffolk lost power since the storm intensified Wednesday night. One customer was still out as of Thursday afternoon.

Nearly 81,400 customers had experienced power outages in Hampton Roads and North Carolina, including 2,263 in Isle of Wight County, Harris said.

“We’re down to 21,300 still in the dark, with the vast majority in Virginia Beach,” she said in an email.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency on Wednesday, and state agencies identified and positioned position resources for a fast response. Nearly 100 Virginia National Guard personnel were staged and ready to assist, according to a press release on Wednesday.

“The capabilities we provide are an important part of the commonwealth’s emergency response, and our partners at the state and local level count on us being there to assist,” Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, the Adjutant General of Virginia, stated in the press release.

City Manager Patrick Roberts had also declared a state of emergency for Suffolk.

Schools in the city were closed Thursday, and Suffolk Public Schools planned to close Friday as well, the division announced on its website.

Suffolk Christian Academy canceled Friday classes, according to a Facebook post by Headmaster Tamra VanDorn.

Tidewater Community College will remain closed Friday through Sunday, and the college’s special enrollment day will be rescheduled for another date, according to Campus Communication Officer Vicki Friedman.

Residents responded to a Suffolk News-Herald post on Facebook asking about their snow day activities with pictures of their children and grandchildren catching snowflakes on their tongues and making snow angels.

“Using snow shovel to pull my daughter because they sold out of snow tubes and sleds,” said Facebook user Natasha McCarty. “Playing games and got tortilla soup in a crockpot for dinner.”

“We spent the morning enjoying a winter walk in the woods behind our house, and some warm hot chocolate,” said Facebook user Jenny Barnes Owens.

Some were looking after their farm animals or taking down their Christmas decorations. Others like Facebook user Jamie Landry, who was painting rocks for Suffolk Rocks, chose to stay indoors where it was warm.

“I don’t want to build a snowman,” said Facebook user Amy Flowers. “I am staying warm and dry in the house!”