WISE — The latest winter storm system delivered a glancing blow to Southwest Virginia Thursday night, leaving tolerable accumulations of snow and barely tolerable frigid conditions in its wake.
Single-digit temperatures greeted residents of the region at dawn in areas like the town of Wise, with other areas in the low teens. Still, snow accumulations ranged from just 1 to 3 inches across Lee, Wise and Scott counties, with the higher elevation areas like Wise receiving the most.
Driving quickly became hazardous when the snow ramped up after dusk on Thursday in areas like Wise and U.S. Route 23 at the Kentucky-Virginia border near Pound, but Virginia Department of Transportation Wise Residency Administrator Allan Sumpter said road crews managed to get on top of things as the night progressed into Friday morning.
“Everything went well last night. There were no major problems we’re aware of,” he said. “We had (snow) accumulations of anywhere from 1 to 3 inches. We’re showing in our reports an average of 3 inches in Dickenson and Wise counties, and (highest elevation areas) like Black Mountain probably have even more, but those are our average totals throughout.”
Predictions of 6 to 8 inches of snow possible across higher elevation areas of Southwest Virginia didn’t pan out, which was fine for VDOT and just about everyone else.
“Our 10 a.m. (Friday) report shows our primaries in minor condition with snow patches, which means our salt is doing the trick. But we’re advising motorists to be careful because there are still some icy patches out there, particularly in cold spots.”
Sumpter reported secondary routes were listed in moderate condition, if snow covered, as of the 10 a.m. Friday report.
“Our hard top secondaries are starting to show a little bit of thaw since the sun’s come out this morning. But we anticipate with temperatures forecast to get only in the upper teens or low 20s today, we will have our night crews out tonight to monitor conditions. And we’re anticipating our day crews tomorrow to continue addressing the needs on our secondaries and back roads to finish the cleanup,” he said.
Temperatures are expected to creep back up into more reasonable levels by today, he added.
“With this one, temperatures are the big issue. The colder temperatures we’ve had chilled our road surfaces down the last couple of weeks, so when we get these real cold nights, what moisture is out there is going to stick and freeze,” Sumpter said.
“Sometimes you don’t need a whole lot of accumulation to cause problems, as we saw (early Thursday) with that thin coat of black ice in many of our areas.”