Big chill

Cody Miller, 14, left, and Daniel McMullan, 15, right, walk across the snow- and ice-covered walkway on South Holliday Street in Strasburg on Thursday as temperatures hovered around the 20-degree mark. Shenandoah and Warren county schools were on a two-hour delay Thursday due to the cold weather. Rich Cooley/Daily

Wintry conditions responsible for chilly temperatures and 2 inches of snowfall have had a major impact on residents and area services.

County schools were forced to operate on heavily adjusted schedules.

Shenandoah, Warren and Clarke County schools all closed on Tuesday and operated with two-hour delays Wednesday, Thursday and today.

Page County Public Schools will be opening one-hour late today.

Frederick County Schools were closed Tuesday through Thursday and announced a two-hour delay for today.

The freezing temperatures have had an impact on residents’ plumbing, with a minimal impact on power.

Despite the harsh wintry conditions, electrical companies have reported few, if any, power outages in the area.

Rob Richardson, senior communications specialist for Dominion Power, noted that the Shenandoah Valley region had only one power outage as of Thursday morning.

Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative reported no power outages among area residents, according to Mike Aulgur, SVEC vice president of external affairs.

The primary concern moving forward, Aulgur said, has to do with energy costs and increased demands for energy.

John Powell, of Powell’s Plumbing, said that his company has received between 175 and 200 calls from area residents.

A majority of the calls, Powell said, had to do with freezing water pipes.

“Most of the time [pipes] will freeze, expand and burst in certain areas and we just fix the break,” Powell said.

Rodney Sinecoff, of Winchester Plumbing, said they have received “about a dozen calls” related to frozen pipes, but expects more when temperatures rise.

“If this weather continues the way it is, that (calls from residents) always increases after the first two-to-three days,” Sinecoff said.

Winsome Sears, owner of Shenandoah Appliance Plumbing and Electric in Front Royal, said the weather has had a major effect on both their operations and customers.

“The impact with us is that we are not able to get to our customers because of the snow on the secondary roads,” Sears said, adding that she is now asking residents about road conditions before deciding whether to send someone out on a job.

Shenandoah Appliance Plumbing and Electric services residents around Front Royal as well as Clarke County.

Ken Slack, communications specialist for the Virginia Department of Transportation, said that it is very difficult to treat every road in every county.

The veteran plow drivers for VDOT, who know their particular area, will “try to get to the trouble spots,” Slack said.

However, even with treatment and plowing, the frigid temperatures still pose a problem. “We don’t have chemicals that will melt ice at seven degrees,” Slack explained.

Moving forward, The National Weather Service is predicting a slight chance for snow throughout the day today and more sub-freezing temperatures through Saturday.

Kevin Witt, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said that the area “could see a few snow showers, mainly in the morning and afternoon.”

The possibility for any accumulation, Witt said, “is minimal, considering most of the energy is going to be north of us.”

Temperatures are expected to fall as low at 8 degrees tonight, while the high for Saturday is expected to be reach 27.

The overnight low for Saturday is expected to be 11 degrees.

With the temperatures remaining at sub-freezing levels, Witt said, “What is ice [on the roads] now, will be ice later.”

Witt added, “The best thing to do, if you are out and about, is to … watch out for the patchy ice spots.”

According to Sinecoff, there are simple tricks — such as opening up cabinet doors to heat up pipes — residents can use to prevent bursting pipes.

“Anytime you get [down] into the 20s, you want to run your water overnight, about the size of a pencil string,” Sinecoff said, adding, “That basically keeps friction going through the pipes.”

For energy and financial savings, Aulgur said that residents should “be cognizant of their increased usage … and keep on eye on consumption.”

For the use of baseboard heaters, Aulgur said that residents can save by using the natural sunlight during the day.

According to Richardson, even something as simple as adjusting a thermostat a few degrees can save residents money on energy.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com