Crews clear roads as residents dig out

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

The first snowfall of 2018 left the Williamsburg area with about 7 inches of snow and a biting shiver that will last into next week.

With schools closed for a second day Friday, dozens hit the hills behind Jamestown High School and other popular spots to sled, and still more packed grocery store parking lots and other shopping centers, managing to make it out on neighborhood streets that have mostly not been treated.

But even when all roads are plowed and treated, it will still be at least a few more days before they are completely clear of snow and ice, as temperatures are not expected to reach above freezing until Monday.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for sunny skies Saturday and Sunday, with high temperatures in the low 20s Saturday and the high 20s Sunday; low temperatures will not get above single-digits until Sunday evening. Next week, high temperatures are expected to get into the low- to mid-40s, with a slight chance of light rain Tuesday.

The immediate concern for area first responders is twofold: refrozen roads each evening when the sun goes down and temperatures drop, and already-frozen pipes breaking as the temperatures fluctuate.

“We haven’t had too many storm-related incidents, a few calls here and there for water leaks from frozen pipes,” Williamsburg Fire Chief Pat Dent said. “We anticipate that will be a bigger issue Monday when things start thawing out.”

York County Fire Chief Stephen Kopczynski said the department has also responded to several calls for frozen water pipes that have burst.

Slow going

The snowstorm that began overnight Wednesday into Thursday wasn’t record-breaking, but it was enough to shut down local governments, schools — including the College of William and Mary and Thomas Nelson Community College — libraries and parks through Friday.

Some businesses, such as the Williamsburg Premium Outlets, closed Thursday, as did tourist attractions such as Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement and the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown. As did WATA, the area’s public transportation system. The outlets and tourist attractions had delayed openings Friday, as did WATA, which also altered a few of its routes.

Other places, such as Olde Towne Pharmacy at Longhill and Olde Towne roads, opened on time Thursday.

Owner Kelly Kale said she has not closed for inclement weather in 30 years, and she wasn’t about to start.

“It was not great,” Kale said about getting out on the roads Thursday, “but as long as you drove slow, it was alright.”

Kale said she didn’t see many customers, so it was a good time for her to catch up on paperwork.

Mike Reposa, a law student at the College of William and Mary, chose to dig out Thursday afternoon, but he had a nice reward awaiting him in his Spotswood Commons apartment.

“Might as well just sip a brandy after clearing out the snow,” Reposa said.

Williamsburg Symphony executive director Carolyn Keurajian was one of those who stayed inside. She used the time to prepare for next week’s Cabaret and Cocktails concert.

“It’s nice to be at home,” Keurajian said. “I’ve got my dog at my feet.”

Clearing the path ahead

Area roads that were mostly snow covered Thursday afternoon showed marked improvement by mid-morning Friday.

In James City County, the Virginia Department of Transportation had plowed and cleared primary roads such as Merrimac Trail, Pocahontas Trail, Jamestown Road, John Tyler Highway, Richmond Road, Croaker Road and Route 199. VDOT had also plowed most secondary roads, but had not yet plowed most neighborhood roads through Friday afternoon.

In Williamsburg, Dent said city public works crews had primary roads in good shape as of Friday afternoon, while secondary roads still had some icy spots. He said the city fared well through the snow and the cleanup.

“Obviously the sun helped a lot (Friday) in getting the streets in better condition,” Dent said.

Kopczynski said people should continue to use caution. He also said people should continue to check on elderly family and friends and continue to protect their pets from the cold.

Waiting out the storm

The weather did not cause too many headaches for area and state police.

Williamsburg Police spokesman Maj. Greg Riley said there was just one weather-related accident in the city — on Capitol Landing Road Thursday morning when a car struck a disabled car. A few cars were stuck and needed assistance overnight Wednesday.

James City County Police responded to six accidents and 13 disabled cars between 10 p.m. Wednesday and 6 a.m. Thursday, police spokeswoman Stephanie Williams said.

In York County, sheriff’s office spokeswoman Shelley Ward said deputies responded to three accidents and 13 disabled cars from midnight through about 10 a.m. Thursday.

“I think people stayed at home, and that kept traffic-related incidents down,” Riley said.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

Copyright © 2018, The Virginia Gazette
79°