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Soft but slippery: Snowfall piles up

South Boston News
A Ford service truck jack-knifed on U.S. 360 East after crossing the median and skidding into the opposite lane of the highway. / January 17, 2018
Wednesday’s snowstorm packed a bigger-than-expected punch as the initial forecast of 1-3 inches gave way to more than double that amount as the day and night wore on.

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg warned that Halifax, Pittsylvania and Charlotte counties were in line to get more than 6 inches of snow in some areas from an arctic cold front that moved through the Piedmont. The gentle snowfall during daytime was expected to give way to blustery winds later in the night Wednesday and Thursday morning.

A winter storm warning was in effect through 9 p.m. Wednesday, with the NWS advising residents to stay off roads and be prepared for low wind chills.

Slippery road conditions fed a rash of traffic crashes as State Police and local fire and rescue units were called out to dozens of mishaps around Halifax County.

Motorists “are wrecking left and right,” said State Police First Sgt. James Hopkins, although as of early afternoon Wednesday none of the crashes was serious. Most of the crashes involved vehicles sliding off the road, Hopkins said.

County Emergency Services Coordinator Chad Loftis said he received reports of 13 accidents between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. from the county 911 center.

“Rescue squads and fire departments have been going out quite a bit for traffic accidents,” he said. “They’ve been all over the place.”

There were no power outages in Halifax County reported by either Dominion Virginia Power or Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative by mid-day Wednesday, but Loftis expressed concern that that could change as power lines froze overnight and winds picked up.

“I hope that’s something we don’t have to deal with,” he said.

VDOT’s Lynchburg office was preparing for the highest accumulations of snow in Halifax and Pittsylvania, and reported the highest number of crashes in the two counties, part of the Lynchburg District’s 10-county coverage area in central Virginia. Roads were covered even where VDOT had pre-treated surfaces in anticipation of the storm.

Statewide, Virginia State Police responded to 61 crashes by 10 a.m. in the morning, a tally that was anticipated to rise throughout the day. More than a quarter of the initial mishaps occurred in the State Police Appomattox District, which includes southern and central Virginia localities.

Despite early reports of trouble, most residents took the storm in stride, staying indoors and minimizing their travel. The announcement went out Tuesday that Halifax County schools would be closed for the day, and many businesses, offices and organizations also shut down for the inclement weather.

Schools in Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania and Charlotte counties also closed Wednesday, with no indication of whether classes would resume this week.

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Jacknifed??? What a dumbass comment.

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