Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency over the weekend as snowstorms dumped snow on Virginia, including up to 8 inches on Shenandoah and Warren counties.
The first significant snowfall of the year shut schools down on Monday, but the week ahead appears clear with overnight freezes and another possible storm this weekend.
Cody Ledbetter, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Sterling, said icy roads are the biggest concerns for Virginians over the next few days. With temperatures dropping well below freezing overnight, both visible patches of ice as well as black ice will pose dangers for drivers, he said.
Besides ice, there is an outside chance Shenandoah and Warren counties will see a small storm later in the week.
“Thursday evening we’ve got another system moving through,” Ledbetter said. “It looks like that could be some wintery weather... it’s a little far out to be sure. We could see some more snow with that.”
Snowfall in Shenandoah County ranged from 4-6 inches in most areas with Toms Brook and Basye topping the region with totals of more than 7 inches.
“The bigger totals were further east in Loudon, Fairfax and Montgomery counties,” Ledbetter said, adding that Washington, D.C., also received its fair share of wintry weather.
Not so far east, Warren County residents saw 7-8 inches of snow according to the National Weather Service.
VDOT spokesman Ken Slack said crews will be out salting roads and clearing paths this week to keep roads clear as well as dry. Sweepers will retrace routes, Slack said, to keep pushing snow to the shoulders of roads so melting mounds will drain off the road rather than back onto the roadway.
Even with salting efforts, Slack said, drivers need to be cautious as temperatures could drop into the teens this week. The salt VDOT uses is effective down to the mid-20s he said, but when it drops lower, ice can still form.
“If you see wet roads,” Slack said, “especially when [you] know temperatures are at or below freezing, just assume it’s ice.”
Heavy snow and a state of emergency had close to no effect on power lines throughout the counties. Representatives from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Dominion Energy reported a few outages that were quickly resolved.
“We were very fortunate to weather this storm with very minimal power outages,” Casey Hollins, director of communications for REC, said Monday afternoon.
Dominion had two outages in Shenandoah County on Sunday night, although many more were reported in northwestern Virginia.
Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative was unavailable for comment on how its lines fared over the weekend.
Snow delayed a range of activities on Monday as Warren County closed its courts and schools for the day. Shenandoah County canceled school as well, but its courts, along with Frederick County’s, were delayed rather than canceled.
Warren and Shenandoah County schools will be open on today, with a two-hour delay.
Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Johnston said Shenandoah County school buses will use snow emergency routes to pick up and drop off children. The two-hour delay, Johnston said, gives drivers time for the roads to thaw and will make it easier for them to see.
Johnston said he was out on the roads Monday afternoon and felt confident conditions would improve enough for students to return to school safely.
With the exception of some wintry weather on Thursday, Shenandoah and Warren County residents should have a clear week ahead, Ledbetter said. However, another storm could be headed this way over the weekend.
“That one looks like it could be a pretty strong storm,” he said, “it’s just a matter of whether we have cold wind with it. That one’s very uncertain at this point.”
Ledbetter said residents should be prepared for a wide range of weather in the future as weather patterns are “very active.”