If you think things couldn’t get much worse with the continued snowstorm-related power outages and freezing temperatures, Central Virginia’s winter weather would like you to hold its drink and watch.
The National Weather Service on Thursday advised area residents to prepare for another two to four inches of snowfall beginning around 6 p.m. and lasting into early Friday morning as nature pulls a repeat of the events that dropped up to a foot of snow on Monday and sent trees, powerlines and power poles crashing to the ground.
That snow will be followed by Canada’s gift of frigid air settling in over the region Friday, dropping temperatures after the snowfall into the teens and plummeting to single digits by Saturday morning.
“A cold front will stall to the south today and low pressure will track along the boundary, passing by to our south tonight and that results in a period of snow,” meteorologists said on the weather service website. “Plan on slippery road conditions. The hazardous conditions could impact the morning or evening commute.”
Meteorologists said the heaviest snow is expected overnight with heavy bursts of snow that could reduce visibility to less than a half-mile.
Predictions are that the system will move much quicker through the region, limiting how much snow will fall. However, snowfalls could match Monday’s storm in intensity. There is also a chance some areas could see significantly higher amounts of snowfall, depending on how the conditions play out.
“There is still some uncertainty as to exactly where this will setup and exactly how strong it will be,” meteorologists said. “Either way, with cold temperatures in place and accumulating snow, conditions will deteriorate once precipitation begins. Even though it is a short duration event, snowfall rates could be around one inch per hour.”
Considering how many motorists were trapped by Monday’s storm, the Virginia State Police are recommending people stay home and, if possible, work remotely.
“With the National Weather Service calling for another significant round of winter weather making its way across Virginia, the Virginia State Police are encouraging Virginians to be weather aware, to plan ahead and to avoid traveling during inclement conditions,” said Corinne Geller, state police spokeswoman.
Geller said Monday’s weather, which carried over to Tuesday, resulted in state police responding to 1,220 traffic crashes and 1,414 disabled or stuck vehicles statewide. That does not include crashes covered by local law enforcement officers.
“There were no weather-related traffic deaths reported during that time period, including the Interstate 95 incident near Fredericksburg,” Geller said.
State police will be out in force.
“Back-to-back storms are nothing new for the state police or Virginia,” said Major R.C. Maxey, Jr., state police deputy director of operations. “[We are] prepared for this latest round of winter weather. We will have all available troopers on patrol in order to respond as quickly as possible to traffic crashes, emergencies, and disabled motorists. We will extend shifts, call out additional troopers, and redirect resources when and where needed, just as we did earlier this week.”
In the meantime, electric utility crews are investigating thousands of individual power outages that have left an estimated 16,000 Albemarle County customers of Dominion Energy still without power and about 700 without electricity in Charlottesville, according to the utility company’s website.
An estimated 32,000 Dominion customers are still without power across the region along with another 4,500 from Central Virginia Electric Cooperative and 1,300 from Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.
The numbers fluctuate as some circuits are turned on only to meet with undiscovered damage that results in the power going back off until another repair can be made.
The utilities have brought in reinforcement repair crews from other states, many of whom are parking and staging trucks at Piedmont Virginia Community College.
School officials on Thursday asked people not involved with electric repairs to avoid the area.
“PVCC is asking for the safety of everyone involved that joggers, sleigh riders, walkers and dog walkers, etc., please hold off on visiting the college for such activities until further notice,” officials wrote in a statement.
“The campus lots at PVCC are being used as an operations and holding location for over 200 utility service provider vehicles. For the safety of those in the community and to help the utility service workers be able to do their jobs with minimal additional obstacles, the college is sharing this request.”
The request does not include PVCC students who “may come to the campus during regular hours of operation” or employees who are working.