What a snow!

Published 12:33 pm Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hannah and Austin Overstreet are pulled around on a sled in the 12-plus inches of snow that fell in Western Tidewater over Christmas.


FRANKLIN—It had been 30 years since lifelong Western Tidewater resident Kitty Lassiter experienced a white Christmas.

“1980 kind of rings a bell,” the 87-year-old Boykins woman said while talking about a Christmas weekend winter storm that left the area under more than a foot of snow and many businesses closed on Sunday and Monday.

According to the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Franklin and Isle of Wight County had 13.2 inches of snow over the weekend, falling shy of a record 14 inches that fell on March 1 and 2 in 1980. There was no information available on snowfall records in Southampton County.

While eating snow cream — made from snow, condensed milk and flavoring of one’s choice — Lassiter’s husband, Roy, called this weekend’s snow “the nicest Christmas present” he’s ever had.

As for 92-year-old Roy Lassiter’s memories of white Christmases, he remembers going to bed on Christmas Eve 1939, and everything was fine. When he woke Christmas morning, there was snow everywhere.

And then there was the white Christmas from 1966, the day Kitty Lassiter’s mother died.

“It was snowing when we had her funeral, so it was probably snowing on Christmas,” Lassiter said.

Boykins residents Sam and Jean Drewry, both 79, believe 1981 was the last time they saw a white Christmas.

“It was beautiful, and I didn’t have to go anywhere, thank goodness,” she said referring to this year’s Christmas snow.

The holiday snow may have been festive, but it created havoc on the roadways. Between midnight and 10 p.m. Sunday, the Virginia State Police recorded 421 traffic crashes, 296 disabled vehicles and 1,159 total calls for service for Hampton Roads, Tidewater, Eastern Shore, Williamsburg, Franklin and Emporia.

Isle of Wight reported a total of 38 traffic accidents between Sunday and Monday and Franklin police investigated two.

Southampton snowplow operators Charlie Worrell and David White spent 10 hours behind the wheel, plowing out parking lots in Franklin, including Golden Skillet, Napa Auto Parts, Three Guys, Mike Duman and David’s Market.

“We started at 7 and finished at 5,” Worrell said.

Many Franklin businesses remained open despite inclement weather. Walmart and Farm Fresh were open Sunday and Monday. Food Lion in Franklin closed at 4 p.m. Sunday, but reopened for regular hours Monday.

Napa Auto Parts was among the businesses that were open.

“We were on call for the 26th for the city and state in case they had problems,” said Crystal Raiford. “We opened from 7 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) on the 27th to accompany the garages that were open and the people who had any trouble over the holiday weekend.”

Napa reported serving 50 to 60 customers on Monday while three of the 15 garages were open. State and city snow fleets needed replacement hydraulic hoses and batteries to keep their equipment running.