Cold snap a boon for area propane dealer

According to preliminary 2017 data, the National Weather Service predicts that this past December will be the coldest in the area on record since 2010.

After weathering a “bomb cyclone” and what appears to have been the coldest December in the area since 2010, demand for heating oil has soared.

For Holtzman Propane, this has meant high sales and long hours.

“We haven’t had any winter to speak of in three years,” said Todd Holtzman, general manager of Holtzman Propane. “We’re working ’round the clock, and moving lots and lots of product … We’re honestly overwhelmed, but all of our people have risen to the occasion.”

Holtzman said his drivers have been working 14-16 hours a day to handle the spike in demand during the cold snap.

These long hours were made possible when Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency in Virginia on Dec. 29, authorizing a temporary increase in hours of service heating oil deliverers are allowed to work.

“All Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event,” McAuliffe stated in a news release.

The exemption for the hours of service will remain in effect until Jan. 13, unless McAuliffe extends it further.

According to preliminary data for December temperatures from the National Weather Service, it appears the last month of 2017 was the coldest since 2010.

Steve Zubrick, National Weather Service meteorologist, noted that, “The mean temperature in Dulles, for December 2017, was 35 degrees, which is 1.6 degrees below normal.”

(Dulles Airport was the nearest locality for which Zubrick could find historical climate data.)

Holtzman said his company serves thousands of customers, but declined to discuss specific income figures.

“Things have been very, very busy,” he said, adding that since the weather has dropped so low it’s been all-hands-on-deck at the company.

“Everybody who has a driver’s license can drive. All of our managers are in trucks,” Holtzman said while out on a delivery run. “Everybody comes together to take care of the customer when things get this busy.”