Winter won’t loosen its grip as snow falls

Posted: March 26, 2013

The Winchester Star

A city of Winchester recycling crew works in a winter wonderland Monday morning along Fairmont Avenue after a storm dumped several inches of heavy, wet snow. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
LEFT: Dakota Kimble (from left), 11, his brother Kaden Kimble, 9, and their father David Kimble team up to shovel snow Monday from their front sidewalk and a neighbor’s walk on Sheridan Avenue.

WINCHESTER — “This isn’t my idea of spring,” Berryville Public Works Director Richard “Rick” Boor said Monday afternoon.

The Northern Valley saw from five to seven inches of snow Monday, as a storm that was blamed for two deaths in the Midwest swirled into the area beginning Sunday night.

“It was a conversational snow,” Boor said.

That’s one where everything is a picture postcard, he said, with snow piled high on trees and shrubs, fence posts and grassy areas, but “not on the roads.”

Boor had a four-man crew out cleaning the town’s streets starting at 8 p.m. Sunday. He came on duty at 4 a.m. with another crew to keep ahead of the storm.

“We put abrasives down when it started,” Boor said. And, there were no equipment breakdowns, which meant the town came out of the storm in very good shape — though each of Boor’s crews put in a 12-hour day.

The storm moved in from the Midwest, where it dumped a record 17 inches in Springfield, Ill., and a foot or more elsewhere in the state.

The system was little more than a nuisance by the time it reached the East Coast. The biggest impact was on air traffic, with nearly 600 flights canceled as of Monday afternoon, according to the FlightAware tracking service. Hardest-hit airports included those in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.

The snow is not expected to affect Washington’s cherry blossoms. National Park Service spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the flowering trees are still expected to reach peak bloom in the days from April 3 to 6.

National Weather Service meteorologist Jared Klein, in Sterling, predicted Monday that the precipitation would linger in the form of light rain or snow flurries overnight, but with “no accumulation.” However, temperatures dipping to 28 degrees could cause slick spots for today’s morning commute.

As the low-pressure system moves east, Klein said the counterclockwise winds around the center should make today a breezy one, with sustained winds of 20 mph and gusts up to 30. A wind-chill factor will make it feel colder than the mid-40s.

That will likely not be enough wind to create any major power outages, Klein added.

Mike Augur, spokesman for the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, said the northern Valley escaped any major loss of power Sunday night.

At the height of the storm early Monday, about 75 customers in Frederick County had lost power, he said. Rappahannock Electric Cooperative reported no outages in Clarke County.

“In the past two storms, the southern areas have been harder hit than the northern areas” of the Valley, Augur said.

He credited a number of capital improvements SVEC has done since taking over the local electrical system from Allegheny Power, with helping the situation.

SVEC is “sectionalizing” the system, Aulgur said. This gives the company the ability to “back feed” the lines to get power to areas that are cut off from an electrical source in one direction.

“It helps keep service interruptions to a minimum,” Aulgur said.

Weather forecaster Klein had some good news.

The next seven days should see a gradual warming trend, although, he added, “we’re still below normal. Our typical temperatures should be in the mid- to upper 50s. We’ll be below that for the rest of the week.”

Easter Sunday and Monday bring a return to normal.

And Klein refused to rule out another visit from the snow fairy.

“We have had April snow,” he said, although he won’t predict that “based on past experience.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com