Snow, ice, not so nice; expect rain today

K.J. Lamma, 12, of Strasburg, walks along a section of Cardinal Street in the morning snow on Monday. Shenandoah County students were closed for Presidents Day, not because of the snow. Rich Cooley/Daily

The region can expect heavy rain and warmer temperatures today – a contrast to the snow and freezing rain that fell Monday.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service also put the Northern Shenandoah Valley under a flood watch today, particularly for rivers with a lot of ice.

Winter precipitation fell on the valley through Monday, starting with snow in the morning, which changed to sleet and/or freezing rain by the early evening. Ray Martin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, said the mixed precipitation likely would continue to fall sporadically overnight.

“It’s gonna be off and on so it’s not going to be just non-stop, wall-to-wall icing,” Martin said. “But we are expecting continuing freezing precipitation until early (today) and then we expect it to gradually warm up and then hopefully should be above freezing.”

Heavy rain should move into the area by this morning, Martin said. Flooding might occur as a result of storm drains unable to take all the rain and from ice thawing on area waterways, Martin added.

Stan Wolfrey, of Baker, West Virginia, tosses a salt substitute onto the sidewalk outside Gents Barbershop on West King Street in Strasburg on Monday morning. Wolfrey was clearing the sidewalks where he works as a barber. Rich Cooley/Daily

Rain should move out later today. Temperatures are expected to rise into the 40s, possibly into the low 50s, Martin said. Precipitation should stop by tomorrow night but with temperatures dipping below freezing, Martin warned of potential icy spots on area roads.

“We haven’t issued any (flood) warnings yet,” Martin said. “Usually that’s a little closer when we’re very certain it’s going to happen ’cause ice jam flooding is tricky. It tends to be unpredictable.

“We know there’s a good potential for it to happen but exactly where and when, that’s a little tougher,” Martin added. “So once we have a better feel for that we’ll probably issue warnings.”

People can check out weather reports and updated forecasts for the region on the National Weather Service page at www.weather.gov/lwx.

The region was spared heavier snows that fell in the eastern part of the state, Martin said. But the lower snowfall still made it tough for some drivers in the region. State police responded to at least 60 crashes in the Culpeper district that includes the Northern Shenandoah Valley, spokeswoman Corinne Geller said Monday afternoon.

The Virginia Department of Transportation advised early Monday afternoon that most roads in the Northern Shenandoah Valley were covered in snow. VDOT’s Staunton District, which includes the Northern Shenandoah Valley, put 850 pieces of equipment on the roads to tackle the storm. Crews plan to work 12-hour shifts, approximately 1,000 VDOT employees and contract workers per shift. VDOT also is working with utility and tree-trimming crews to handle downed trees or debris caused by icing.

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