Area remains well below seasonal average for snowfall after Wednesday's precipitation
By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Snowfall for the region this season remains well below average even after Wednesday's bout with a bit of wintry mix.
But the forecast of 1 to 3 inches still prompted most school systems in the Northern Shenandoah Valley to dismiss pupils early and cancel all afternoon and evening activities such as sports events. Of the five jurisdictions, only Winchester Public Schools stayed open until the regularly scheduled dismissal times. The city schools did cancel their afternoon activities.
The National Weather Service forecast called for snow to fall throughout the day and into the evening, Kevin Witt, a meteorologist in the agency's Baltimore-Washington, Forecast Office in Sterling, said Wednesday morning. Snowfall in Winchester began to taper off as early as 6 p.m., which Witt said the agency had forecasted.
The Virginia Department of Transportation did not issue travel alerts for motorists given the lack of snowfall reported by the region, according to spokeswoman Sandy Myers.
VDOT had learned of minor road conditions in Clarke County early Wednesday morning.
"We did not pre-treat the roads for this particular event here in the Shenandoah Valley simply because the road-surface temperatures were still warm," Myers said. "But the plows and the operators -- they're ready to go. Once we have something to plow then they'll be out there treating the roads."
Few motor vehicle crashes involving serious injuries were reported on area roads as snow continued to fall.
Any snow that fell Wednesday may not stay on the ground long as the weather service predicts sunny skies and temperatures near 44 degrees today. The weather service forecasts a slight chance of snow showers Friday night with temperatures near 26 degrees.
Weather service records dating to 1982 collected by an observer show Winchester received an annual average of 24.4 inches of snow, Witt said. Not including what fell Wednesday, but including the rare October storm, the area has received 6.6 inches of snow for the year, according to Witt.
"We're below the average in terms of what we're looking at since records have been kept there," Witt said.
Records show 14.3 inches of snow fell in the Winchester area last year, and Witt predicted the region could see a similar amount this year. However, Witt advised the storm systems that come through the area stand as much of a chance of bringing ice or rain as they do snow.
The highest snowfall amount recorded in that time came in the 2009-2010 season, when winter storms blanketed the region with a total of 65 inches, Witt said.