Final snow total: 6 inches to 8 inches

Published 10:43 am Saturday, January 30, 2010

FRANKLIN—After a couple of false alarms this winter, snow blanketed Western Tidewater overnight Friday and through much of Saturday.

It wasn’t close to the foot of snow that meteorologists had said was possible, but the accumulation was significant. From 6 inches to 8 inches fell in Franklin, depending on where the measurement was taken.

Road-clearing was under way in earnest Sunday as the sun shone brightly, but crews were getting no help from the thermometer, which was expected to top out at 33 degrees, delaying significant melting until Monday. Sunday night’s low will dip to 12 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Monday’s high is predicted to be 37.

Officials continue to urge residents to avoid traveling on roadways unless it’s absolutely necessary.

State Police Spokeswoman Sgt. Michelle Cotten said Sunday morning that “just because the sun is out doesn’t mean the ice and snow are melting” on roadways.

She said most people seemed to be heeding warnings and staying off of the roads “so far this morning.”

“We’ll see how this afternoon goes,” she said.

As of 9 a.m., the Virginia Department of Transportation was reporting “moderate” conditions along major highways in the region, including Routes 58, 258, 35 and 460. Moderate means that snow or ice is covering a major portion of the roadway, but it is still passable if the driver uses caution.

Nora Jump-Scott, a Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman, said the company started pre-treating major routes like 58 and 460 Thursday and continued Friday to prevent “a bond between the precipitation and the roadway.”

“We’re going to continue the process of plowing and treating until the event is over,” she said.

Russ Pace, Franklin’s director of public works, said city crews also pre-treating streets. He said city crews were working to clear streets of ice and snow Sunday morning.

“We’re working on it, making progress,” he said. “I’m confident that by the end of the day we’ll have the roads in good shape.”

Pace noted that some streets in the city that were still snow-covered Sunday morning, like North High and Clay streets, had “good traction” and motorists weren’t having trouble getting through.

The Isle of Wight County Department of Emergency Services reported icy conditions on roadways throughout the county Sunday morning and warned residents not to go out unless it was absolutely necessary.

Jump-Scott said VDOT could begin the process of clearing secondary roads in Southampton and Isle of Wight counties as soon as Sunday afternoon.

“It’s always the Virginia Department of Transportation’s goal to have all roads passable within 48 hours after the event has ended. However, this is an unprecedented event,” she said.

The secondary roads will be cleared as soon as the primary routes are cleared. She said Sunday morning that VDOT was in the process of applying chemicals to the primary roads to melt the ice so they could be plowed. However, VDOT officials warn that even roads that have been plowed and look clear could have black ice.