A snowy President’s Day

Sandy Flats Road north of Floyd just before noon Monday. Anyone seen a snowplow? (Photos by Doug Thompson)
Sandy Flats Road north of Floyd just before noon Monday. Anyone seen a snowplow? >br />(Photos by Doug Thompson)

The snow was less than a foot, less than half a foot in some areas by Monday afternoon and nothing was falling from the sky in most parts of Floyd County around 2:00 p.m.

But the storm is not over as rain, part of it freezing, is expected to fall overnight Monday and will make things slick, at least for a while, and then warm weather in the 40s arrives Tuesday to start the snow turning into water and flooding.

U.S. 221 and Virginia Route 8 were still covered with patches of snow and ice shortly after noon on Monday.  A drive down both roads found the going easy for 4-wheel drive vehicles but dicey in some spots.

Many secondary roads remained unplowed by early afternoon.  Asked a Virginia Department of Transportation snow plow driver about the schedule for secondaries, he frowned.

“We’ll get to them as soon as we can,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the main roads cleared first.”

Snow plows on the roads were scraping and dropping chemicals.  With the temperatures in the 20s, freezing is a problem but the National Weather Service in Blacksburg says Floyd County temperatures will continue to rise Monday and top freezing around midnight, then keep going up into the higher 30s by daybreak and hit 40 degrees before noon.

Daytime highs will continue to rise through the week and is forecast to reach 59 degrees by Saturday and 57 on Sunday with just a 10 percent chance of rain.

With Monday falling on the President’s Day holiday, the area was all but closed.  The Courthouse and banks closed anyway but plan to be open on time Wednesday.

Schools closed in Floyd County and through most of the area.  The schools remain closed for Tuesday, joined by the counties of Montgomery, Botetourt County, Roanoke, Pulaski and the cities of Roanoke, Salem and Covington.

A planned conference basketball game between Floyd’s Buffaloes and the Giles Spartans, the included a reschduled homecoming celebration for Floyd — twice postponed already because of weather — was set for Monday night is now scheduled, tentatively, for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the FCHS gym.

Floyd County’s new Drug Court was scheduled for its first session Tuesday morning, weather permitting, and three trials are also set for Tuesday in Circuit Court.  The weather, however, is not permitting.

The aisles were pretty empty of shoppers at Food Lion shortly after noon Monday.  Same for Dollar General.  When we asked the clerk about the crowd, she said: “Oh, they were here yesterday.”

Appalachian Power Company reported more than 2,000 power outages after midnight Monday — mostly from Franklin County, which had more than 1,300 customers in the dark.  No outages reported in Floyd County at 3:00 a.m.

The winter storm warning for our area remains in effect until noon Tuesday. A flash flood watch is in effect for Southwestern Virginia west of I-77, which does not include Floyd County, the New River Valley or the Roanoke area.

Says Roanoke Times weather guru Kevin Myatt:

So the expectation as of Monday afternoon is that some pockets of severe ice may develop overnight, but it probably warms just enough that a widespread major ice storm does not occur across our entire region. This of course is a borderline situation that needs to be monitored. Sporadic power outages are possible even if we do not have severe ice. Many tree limbs are weighted down by snow, and a little ice could take a few limbs downs, maybe across power lines.

Beyond tonight, a big melt gets going in earnest on Tuesday, with highs in the 40s. Overnight night rain will loosen and slush up the snow anywhere it doesn’t coat it with a thick layer of ice. Highs in the 40s and 50s are expected into the weekend, and maybe, just maybe, a few places touch 60 over the weekend.

That may be the good news.  Myatt concludes:

Do not mistake this week’s milder pattern for the start of spring. There are likely Arctic air masses and perhaps another winter storm threat or 2 to deal with as we push into late February and early March.

All right.  The groundhog lied. Where’s my rifle?  I’m hunting for the rodent.

(Updated throughout the day as additional information comes in.)

Field off Poor Farm Road.
Field off Poor Farm Road.
Another unpaved secondary road.
Another unpaved secondary road.
A hanging haze over much of the area.
A hanging haze over much of the area.

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