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Posted December 17, 2010 | comments Leave a comment

Two sides to snow

Kids enjoy day off, while adults brave treacherous roads

By Ben Orcutt - borcutt@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Snow blanketed the Northern Shenandoah Valley Thursday, canceling school and causing several traffic crashes, including a pileup on Interstate 81 near Edinburg.

The interstate crash involved several vehicles at the 279 mile-marker, closing both northbound lanes of I-81, and Virginia Department of Transportation officials said it could be several hours before the lanes would reopen.

The National Weather Service's forecast office in Sterling said 1 to 3 inches of snow fell in the area Thursday before tapering off. Thursday's high temperature was reported to be near 25 and an overnight low of around 20 was expected.

The forecast for today is mostly sunny with a high near 34 and a low of about 21. No precipitation is in the forecast for the weekend, and the high on Saturday is expected to be near 34 with a low near 21, followed by a high on Sunday of around 30 and a low near 18.

Thursday's snowstorm closed schools in Clarke, Frederick, Shenandoah and Warren counties. In Winchester, elementary pupils were released at 12:45 p.m., and middle and high school students at 1:30 p.m.

Shenandoah County schools will be closed today because of the snow.

Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew said that as of the middle of the day there had been 15 crashes that required an emergency response, but none of them were serious.

"Most of our accidents have been on the interstate," Yew said.

Clarke County also reported some crashes, with some patients being transported for medical attention.

Most of the snow-related crashes in Warren County were on Interstate 66, but no one had been transported for medical attention as of noon, Fire and Rescue Chief Richard E. Mabie said. Some minor crashes were reported in Front Royal as well, he said.

"It hasn't been too bad," said Warren County Sheriff Daniel T. McEathron. "You've had some minor accidents, slipping and sliding, but for the most part everybody seems to be traveling good. It came in at a decent time. Most of the people were already at work I guess by the time it ever came in here. School not being in session, we're weathering this one pretty good."

VDOT reported no severe road condition problems late Thursday afternoon.
"It looks like most of the roads are seeing some snow cover out there and very, very hazardous driving may be on untreated roads, so folks need to drive with a lot of caution," said Sandy Myers, public relations manager for VDOT's Staunton District. "Most people should be able to get around if they just drive carefully."

Dale Martin, manager for the Martin's food store in Front Royal, said business was good on Thursday but tapered off by mid-afternoon.

"It started out brisk, but honestly it's not the panic that I would have thought there'd be at this point in time," Martin said.

Martin said customers were buying snow shovels, salt, toilet paper, beer, soft drinks, milk and chips.

"A certain amount of panic would be good," Martin said. "Too much of a panic is not such a good thing."

Jacqueline Harris, 32, and sons Allen, 13, and Scott, 9, of Chester Gap weren't panicking on Thursday, but were just making a routine trip to the grocery store.

"Just coming to the store to get some stuff," Mrs. Harris said. "We're not scared of the snow. We live in Chester Gap."

Scott, a fifth-grader at Rappahannock County Elementary School, said he was looking forward to playing in the snow and watching movies on his day off from school. His big brother, an eighth-grader at Rappahannock County High School, said he would probably play in the snow as well.

Their mother said the boys had been out of school since they were released early on Tuesday because of frozen water pipes.

"If they don't go back [today], then they don't go back until the beginning of the year," Mrs. Harris said. "[They're] driving me crazy."

Lee Bowen, owner of Ramsey True Value Hardware in Front Royal, said business was good on Thursday.

"It's been a good day," Bowen said. "Sleds and shovels and salt [have] gone out."

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