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VDOT chief says area ‘dodged a bullet’

November 27th, 2013 8:10 pm by Stephen Igo

VDOT chief says area ‘dodged a bullet’

WISE  —  Virginia Department of Transportation and contractor snowplow crews expect to stay at it into Thanksgiving Day after the season’s first major storm dealt mostly a glancing blow across Southwest Virginia on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some snow accumulation forecasts preceding the storm were generally off by as much as half or even more, which was OK by VDOT crews as well as the motoring public. Total accumulations of 1 to 3 inches or perhaps a bit more in some spots were expected as things wrapped up later Wednesday across much of Wise County, while a few of the highest elevations could wind up with a bit more.

“We seem to have dodged a bullet,” VDOT Wise Resident Administrator Allan Sumpter said at around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The Wise Residency headquarters manages highway maintenance across Wise, Lee, Scott and Dickenson counties.

“As far as being a major storm as forecasters said it might be, we had crews working all night (Tuesday into Wednesday). We had to do some salting and plowing. But as of now all of our primaries are shaping up real well. The biggest problem we have is that our secondaries have a lot of snow and ice covered. They’ve got some slushy ice on them, and we’re getting to work on those as we can get to them.” 

As the storm drew a bead on the Northeastern U.S., things were expected to taper off to snow showers Wednesday with few additional headaches for his crews into Thursday.

“That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it,” Sumpter said. “What we’re seeing in most of our low-lying areas is an inch or two, and we’re hearing of possibly up to 4 inches in some of our highest elevations.” 

The storm began as moderate to heavy rains across the region throughout the day Tuesday, changing over to snow late Tuesday or the wee hours of Wednesday. The rains posed few problems as well, Sumpter said.

“I’m not aware of any problems due to the rain, other than the usual flash flooding that occurs in places we are normally accustomed to dealing with,” he said. “We had a couple of trees down, but nothing that doesn’t seem to have bothered us too bad.” 

Making sure the primaries remain clear, working on the secondaries and staying on patrol to battle refreezing road surfaces will keep VDOT crews out all night Wednesday into Thursday, Sumpter said.

“We expect temperatures to fall down pretty good, so black ice is a concern for us. We expect to have our crews out all night into tomorrow.” 

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