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More snow possible as Charlottesville area continues recovery

As the Charlottesville area continues to recover from Monday’s snowstorm, more winter weather is on the horizon.

According to meteorologists at the National Weather Service, the Central Virginia area could see more snow Thursday night as another storm is expected to hit the area.

“It’s a little track dependent, but right now our expectation is about one to three inches Thursday night,” said Ray Martin, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Sterling. “Not like the storm we just had.”

Monday’s storm left the region with between about 5 to 15 inches of wet snow that caused many still unresolved power outages across the area.

At one point, trees that snapped under the weight of the heavy, wet snow accumulated on branches blocked Interstate 64 between Charlottesville and Goochland County, forcing Virginia Department of Transportation officials to close the highway.

The wet snow and quickly falling temperatures turned U.S. 29 in Nelson County so slick that several semis could not make up the hill near Lovingston, forcing the closure of that road, as well.

Several roads were closed Tuesday, including Park Street from Melbourne to U.S. 250 Bypass due to trees that fell beneath the weight of Monday’s storm.

Dominion Energy officials on Tuesday said that crews trying to repair and restore electricity to area customers were still dodging falling limbs and trees. That is making repair efforts drag.

“Our crews are working as quickly as they can to safety navigate icy roadways, road closures, downed trees and tree limbs,” company officials said Tuesday on social media accounts. “In some localities the damage is so severe that some areas are not even accessible by foot, in those cases we are using drones to assess.”

Martin said the snow on Monday was heavier and wetter than this area usually sees, partly due to the way the storm moved into the area and that temperatures continued to fall as the storm progressed. Initial rain changed to wet snow, he said, which stuck to the trees immediately.

“But then the temperature kept falling, so that initial wet snow basically froze to the trees and we had more snow piling on top of that,” Martin said. “So even though it got colder as the storm progressed, the trees continued to see a buildup of snow and that was a pretty bad combination.”

The snowstorm, which ended in the afternoon on Monday, was “almost a perfect storm” for heavy snow, Martin said.

When this area gets wet snow, the temperatures are right around freezing, sometimes increasing towards the end of the storm, and the snow will start melting off the trees and fall off during the storm, he said.

“But in this storm, because the temperature ended up falling a bit more during the storm after it changed over, all that snow that initially fell just froze to the trees and then that provided a great platform for more snow to accumulate on top,” Martin said. “So it was kind of a perfect storm to really just get really heavy snow loads.”

Thursday’s small storm is expected to start in the evening, likely between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Martin said. The NWS predicts higher snowfall in and west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, with about 2 to 3 inches expected for most of the area as of Tuesday afternoon.

“This one does not have the intensity that the one on Monday had,” Martin said. “While it is going to be moving through about as quick as the previous one, we do not expect the kind of heavy snow that we saw on Monday.”


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