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Winter stalks start of spring

Hunter Funk, of Woodstock, walks around his Virginia Department of Transportation dump truck for a safety inspection before starting a 12-hour shift Tuesday afternoon at the Stephens City headquarters. Rich Cooley/Daily

Despite the calendar, winter is not allowing spring to arrive.

Snow hit the Shenandoah Valley region on Tuesday and is expected to keep falling through today, possibly into the afternoon.

“The commute Wednesday morning will not be fun,” said Jason Elliott, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Sterling.

Residents living further south could see anywhere from 4 to 6 inches with those living in Stephens City,  Winchester and Frederick County could see anywhere from 6 to 12 inches, Elliott said.

Crews with the Virginia Department of Transportation are already on the roads, having started treating and plowing on Tuesday in order to make that morning’s commute for drivers as safe as possible.

Pete Robinson, of VDOT, loads a contractor's dump truck with abrasives as crews head out to treat roads Tuesday afternoon in Stephens City. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sandy Myers, spokesperson for VDOT at its Staunton office, noted that crews will continue to work 12-hour shifts.

“The goal is to make at least one pass of all roads within 48 hours after a snow event,” she said.

Public schools in Shenandoah and Warren counties have canceled classes five days so far this winter. Warren County had four extra days built into its calendar.  School administrators in Warren County say they have no plans to shorten the days of the upcoming spring break.

“Next week is our spring break and we will still have our entire spring break, no matter how many days we miss this week,” said Warren County Superintendent Greg Drescher. “There are too many folks with plans in place to make a change to spring break.”

Shenandoah County has 13 inclement weather days built into its calendar.

Pete Robinson, a VDOT loader operator, puts on his gloves before climbing into his loader to start his 12-hour shift at VDOT's Stephens City headquarters on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

Frederick County has canceled classes six days so far this winter.

“Five inclement weather days were built into this year’s school calendar,” said Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications for Frederick County Public Schools. “As noted on the 2017-18 school calendar on our website, if more than five teaching days are missed, one day will be made up for each two days missed in excess of five up to nine make-up days. If 14 or more teaching days are missed, the calendar may have to be adjusted in order to meet the 180- day or 990 instructional hour requirement.”

Tuesday did not bring many outages for local power companies but they are at the ready if Round 2 of this storm knocks out power.

Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Dominion Energy are all at the ready with crews on standby, according to their spokespeople.

The companies agree if the storm delivers heavy wet snow it would be the most damaging type of snow for power lines because its weight could bring lines down.

Preston Knight, of the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, said they are “keeping an eye on different forecasts. We will be at the ready whatever may come.”

He added they will get crews out to restore power as soon as it is safe to be on the roads.

Rappahannock Electric Cooperative also has crews at the ready, said Casey Hollins, director of communications for Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.

“We can’t predict the damage that could occur but we are at the ready,” Hollins said.

They have their own crews as well as contractors, if needed, she said.

The weather forced cancellation of all public school sporting events Tuesday and today in Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick counties, as well as at James Madison and Shenandoah universities.

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