Week’s second snow storm could have ‘greater impacts’ than first in some areas

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Snowy road

~ PVN staff report

LURAY, Jan. 6 — For the second time this week, snow is expected to blanket the Valley with several inches forecast from Thursday evening to Friday morning. While Page County can expect about the same as Monday’s storm, some areas of Virginia could see more severe weather.

While highs will reach 43 degrees today in Luray, the National Weather Service is calling for snow to begin falling across the area sometime after 5 p.m. and continue until around 3 a.m. Total accumulations are projected at two to four inches in some forecasts, and three to five inches in others. Lows will reach 19 degrees overnight.

Governor Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency Wednesday evening in advance of today’s winter storm. Lingering effects of Monday’s storm could “exacerbate the impacts of the coming storm,” according to the Governor’s press release, with some residents still without power due to fallen trees. Monday’s storm left about five to six inches of snow in Page County, but as much as a foot fell in other parts of the commonwealth.

“Having two bouts of snow and icy weather back to back makes it more likely communities will need additional help as they continue to recover from the first round of tree-snapping wet snow and ice that we saw Monday,” Governor Northam said. “While we typically have ample resources for snow storms, these back-to-back events will generate landmark winter weather that requires extra flexibility. I am grateful to the hundreds of first responders and emergency personnel who continue to work around the clock to keep Virginians safe.” 

VDOT’s Staunton District (which includes Page County) began pretreating roads on Wednesday morning. Those efforts concluded early this morning as VDOT crews will now begin monitoring and treating roads as the snow begins to fall later today. Crews are now on 12-hour shifts, 24 hours a day until roads are all clear following the storm.

“Snow amounts of three to five inches are forecasted for Thursday afternoon into Thursday night. The public is asked to monitor weather forecasts for any changing conditions,” reads a Jan. 5 press release issued by VDOT. “Wreckers will be staged at various locations and tree crews will be on standby. People are asked not to travel during the storm if possible.”

While Page County Public Schools started classes on time this morning for the first time since Dec. 17, “all PCPS after-school and evening activities are cancelled on Thursday, Jan. 6,” according to a notice sent out Wednesday evening by the school division. Dates and times for rescheduled events will be announced soon. Local schools opened two hours late on Wednesday after being closed Monday and Tuesday due to the week’s first storm.

“The National Weather Service predicts that starting Thursday, the storm has potential for significant impacts across the Commonwealth, including greater impacts in areas most affected by the earlier storm,” reads the Governor’s press release. “This weather system is likely to include additional downed trees, more electrical outages, and significant impacts on travel conditions. Because the second storm is expected to continue to exacerbate damage from the first one, the emergency order will cover expenses for the combined storm events. Virginians are urged to follow local news for up-to-date forecasts, and to avoid traveling in dangerous weather.”

Once the snow hits the ground this evening, it may not go anywhere for a few days. The forecast calls for highs of only 28 degrees in Page County on Friday and lows down to 6 degrees Friday night. Temperatures will warm slightly on Saturday, getting up to 33 degrees with an overnight low of 23. There is a 90 percent chance of rain or freezing rain on Sunday morning before 10 a.m., with highs in the mid-40s.

During Monday’s storm, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative reported a total of 1,250 customers out of service at 11 a.m., including 638 in Page County. By 4:15 p.m. that number had been reduced to 117 in Page County, and by 9:10 p.m. SVEC only had 139 total customers still out of service.

The regional electrical provider reminds its customers that during winter storms “SVEC crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore service. Members are encouraged to report outages online in the Outage Center, over the MySVEC app or by calling 1-800-234-7832. Estimates for restoration are posted online and in the app, when available.”

For those that have to travel, information on road conditions, crash sites and road closures may be found on VDOT’s 511 site at http://www.511Virginia.org, The 511 app is available on android and Apple devices. The 511 service can be used by dialing 511 within the Commonwealth of Virginia. The VDOT Customer Service Center can be accessed at 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623). Callers can speak to agents 24/7 every day of the year. The customer service center has a mobile friendly website at https://my.vdot.virginia.gov/

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