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Winter delivers another punch to Wise, Dickenson counties

March 3rd, 2014 9:02 pm by Stephen Igo

Winter delivers another punch to Wise, Dickenson counties

WISE — Parts of winter weary Southwest Virginia dealt with another wintry blow on Monday that delivered nature’s full arsenal of precipitation with rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow.

Schools were closed in Wise and Dickenson counties on Monday, a common refrain throughout the winter of 2013-14, and Virginia Department of Transportation Wise Residency snowplow and salt truck crews went back into the breach yet again.

Worst hit were Wise and Dickenson counties. VDOT’s Wise Residency takes care of road issues in Wise, Lee, Scott and Dickenson.

“We’ve got accumulations that have been reported ranging from just a trace in Scott all the way up to 4-1/2 inches in Dickenson,” said VDOT Wise Residency Administrator Allan Sumpter at around 3:30 p.m. Monday, when the snowfall finally began to trail off.

“In the counties with the lower accumulations, our primaries are clear and wet, and the secondaries are in minor condition with snow patches. In Dickenson County, the primary roads still have snow patches and the secondaries are still snow covered. We are getting to work on the secondaries to address as we can,” Sumpter said.

“Many of the secondaries in Wise County, as well, are snow covered. We still have some spotty ice patches on our primary roads as well. Temperatures (at around mid-afternoon) range anywhere from 27 to 30 degrees. It’s supposed to be colder tonight, so we will continue to work the roads throughout the remainder of the day, and be out overnight and make as much headway as we can while temperatures are up to where they are right now and can still promote the salt and chemicals working at their best.”

Temperatures overnight are expected to be in the low teens if not single digits in some quarters of Wise and Dickenson counties, so a refreeze overnight Monday into Tuesday means motorists need to remain cautious.

“As far as what we’re seeing on radar, the heaviest accumulations are starting to move on out, so that’s certainly good news,” Sumpter said. “Like I said, we will try to do our best while our temperatures are still up in the upper 20s to around 30. The effectiveness of chemicals goes down as the temperatures drop into the teens tonight, so motorists need to be aware of refreeze overnight and during (the Tuesday) morning commute.”

Virginia and Tennessee had declared states of emergency on Monday to deal with weather impacts across both states.

The Virginia State Police reported responding to more than 800 traffic crashes across the state between noon and 3 p.m. Monday, as well as to 316 disabled vehicles. Since midnight Sunday, VSP dispatch centers fielded more than 2,000 calls for service. The majority of crashes involved damages to vehicles and no injuries.

The VSP did respond to one confirmed weather-related fatal traffic crash in Amelia County. As of 3:25 p.m. Monday, the VSP had 85 active, pending traffic crashes across Virginia to deal with.

A regional breakdown of VSP traffic responses includes 371 crashes and 76 disabled vehicles out of 549 total calls for services in the Richmond Division; 128 traffic crashes, 61 disabled vehicles out of 308 total calls for service in the Culpeper Division; 19 traffic crashes, 23 disabled vehicles, 201 total calls for service in the Wytheville Division that includes Lee, Wise, Scott and Dickenson counties.

There were 168 traffic crashes, 42 disabled vehicles and 442 total calls for service as of 3 p.m. Monday in the Chesapeake Division; 23 crashes, 30 disabled vehicles, 208 total calls for service in the Salem Division; 111 crashes, 84 disabled vehicles, 372 calls for service in the Fairfax Division; and about 103 responses to incidents in the Appomattox Division from 11 a.m. through 3 p.m. Monday, the majority of them traffic crashes and disabled vehicles, but that division’s information was still being processed.

The storm front began as rain late Sunday, but overnight into Monday developed into freezing rain and sleet as predicted, and that presented Wise and Dickenson residents with an icy Monday morning welcome by dawn. Ice up to a half-inch thick in some places formed on tree limbs, power lines, vehicles and shrubbery while a crusty, crunchy layer of white stuff formed on the ground and hazardous areas such as sidewalks, stairs and road surfaces.

Power outages were blessedly few and short-lived, at least in the areas served by Old Dominion Power Co., a subsidiary of Kentucky Utilities that provides power to nearly all of Wise County and portions of Lee and Scott counties.

ODP reported a single power outage early Monday affecting 14 customers in the Second Avenue area of Big Stone Gap, with power restored in about two hours. By 4 p.m. Monday Appalachian Power Co. (APCO, a division of American Electric Power), which serves a broad portion of the rest of Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, was showing no power outages in those areas.

Earlier Monday, APCO’s outage map for Virginia was showing 109 Wise County customers without power as well as 971 in Dickenson County and 345 in Russell County. However, all of those issues had been resolved as of 4 p.m. Monday.

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