First snow hits with cold reality
The area muddled through its first shoe-top-covering snowfall of the year Wednesday with the usual treacherous driving conditions slowing traffic and contributing to numerous accidents.
Early morning rain changed over to snow around 8 a.m. The snow was tapering off by 3 p.m., but a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service remained in effect until 6 p.m.
Basye received 3 1/2 inches of snow by 10:08 a.m., according to the Weather Service. The totals piled up through the morning with 4 inches falling in Woodstock by 10:28 a.m. and 5 inches in Linden by 11:30 a.m.
The snow intensified as Thanksgiving travel traffic filled the roads throughout the morning. Speeds dropped as drivers adjusted to slippery surfaces increasing traffic volume.
Sgt. F.L. (Les) Tyler of the Virginia State Police reported no serious injuries or fatalities as of 4 p.m.
“I haven’t been advised of any serious crashes today, just the normal fender benders that are attributed to this kind of storm,” Tyler said.
The Shenandoah County Communications Center reported 31 traffic accidents from 8:20 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Fire Chief Gary Yew of Shenandoah County said his radio scanner was alive with accident-related chatter.
“They seemed to be widespread throughout the county,” Yew said of the accidents.
Ken Slack, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Staunton office, said road conditions were improving by mid-afternoon.
“In late morning, we had some rough periods on part of (Interstate 81) but that seems to have calmed down,” Slack said.
A disabled vehicle at mile marker 7 on Interstate 66 in Warren County was the only potential traffic delay in the area reported by VDOT as of 3:30 p.m.
“It looks like most of the snow is tapering off,” Slack said. “The system seems to be moving from southwest to northeast, and we’ve been watching it slowly exit the state.”
Slack said the area’s most heavily traveled roads were reporting only isolated patches of snow, ice or slush, although the mountainous terrain of western Frederick County was still coping with snow and ice on significant stretches of road.
Slack said VDOT road crews would continue working 12-hour shifts through Thanksgiving Day to meet the agency’s goal of at least one pass on all roads within 48 hours after the storm passed.
Interstate and primary roads were to get first priority for plowing with heavily traveled secondary roads next in line.
Slack urged drivers to be wary of refreezing road surfaces as temperatures dropped during the night.
Schools in Warren, Frederick and Shenandoah counties closed, some for the holiday and others in response to the weather.
The Weather Service expects mostly clear skies with a high near 39 Friday. Friday night is likely to be mostly cloudy with lows of around 26.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org