Counties, towns clean up after storm

Towns and counties across the region continued to clean up Monday after the weekend’s winter storm.

But lingering snow prompted some government offices, schools and other agencies to remain closed Monday and today.

Shenandoah County government offices opened for business on Monday. However, the Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors canceled its regular meeting for today and postponed agenda items until its next session Feb. 9. Frederick and Warren county offices remained closed Monday. Frederick County announced Monday afternoon that its offices would stay closed today and reopen Wednesday.

School systems in Frederick, Clarke, Shenandoah and Warren counties closed Monday and will be closed today. Lord Fairfax Community College announced late Monday that all of its campuses will be closed today.

The Virginia Department of Transportation handled the primary and secondary state roads throughout the counties while most towns took care of clearing their own streets.

In Warren County, VDOT hoped to open all secondary roads by Monday night, County Administrator Douglas Stanley stated in an email.

As of midday Monday, Warren County had at least one pass through about 65 percent of the roads in Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District. Equipment breakdowns hampered clearing efforts. The county hired three bulldozers and had them stage at the sanitary district. However, two of the bulldozers broke down Saturday night. One of the bulldozers was back up and running Monday. County officials said they hoped to have all remaining roads open by Monday night, Stanley noted.

Also in Warren County, VDOT had not opened sections of Howellsville and Blue Mountain roads by Monday afternoon. A large motor grader was stuck on Freezeland Road.

Front Royal Town Manager Steve Burke said Monday that crews worked to widen the streets but had to deal with parked vehicles.

“We’re having to battle with folks parking on the cleared street because their driveways aren’t cleared out, so that’s complicating getting our equipment down to continue widening out the streets,” Burke said.

Later that afternoon, the town closed parts of Main Street so crews could remove snow, Burke said.

Front Royal experienced a power outage due to an equipment failure Sunday night that affected a few customers, Burke added. Town crews also responded to several waterline breaks during the day. Such incidents do draw crews away from their snow-removal activities, Burke said.  He added that maintaining utility services to town customers remains a priority.

Strasburg crews cleared most streets by Monday, Assistant Town Manager Jay McKinley said. Lower snowfalls plus the higher temperatures on Sunday helped cleanup efforts.

“We knocked it out and everything went smooth,” McKinley said, adding that crews would need to shut down parts of Main Street that night to finish clearing snow. “I was pretty impressed with the guys. I was proud of them.”

Weather reports show warmer temperatures ahead. Front Royal’s town crews will work to prevent flooding from the melting snow by making sure storm drains are open and the water has somewhere to go, Burke said.

Very few people across the valley lost power during the storm. Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative noted that it had 32 reported incidents from midnight Friday until midnight Monday, according to information from J. Mike Aulgur, vice president of member services. Incidents were scattered and small, with only eight of the outages affecting more than 25 consumers. The utility reported five outages in Mount Jackson, six in Winchester, nine in Rockingham County and 12 in Augusta County. It took almost six hours to restore power during one incident in which a tree knocked a wire down in Shenandoah County, Aulgur stated in an email.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative reported only a few outages scattered across its coverage area over the weekend, said spokesman Brian Wolfe.

The National Weather Service showed varying snowfall amounts across the region over the weekend, Matt Elliott, meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said Monday. Trained spotters reported levels to the agency that it posted Monday afternoon. A spotter in Stephens City reported 35 inches on Saturday. Spotters in parts of Warren County reported 28-32 inches. An observer reported 28 inches in the Riverton area of Warren County. In Shenandoah County, a spotter reported 22.8 inches. No final numbers for Winchester or the surrounding area were available Monday.

At one point on Sunday, meteorologists were on alert for another weather system that could potentially drop more snow on the region later this week. However, as of Monday afternoon, Elliott said that system likely would not bring more than a light dusting to the area. Meteorologists are predicting rain for Tuesday, possibly switching over to very light snow, if any, late that evening and early Wednesday morning, Elliott said.

“We’re not expecting major impacts at all at this point,” Elliott said. “These aren’t the ones you’d generally have to worry about.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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