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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Snow sweeps into area
Schools closed today; power still out in some areas
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Rain covers a rearview mirror on a vehicle parked on Main Street in Martinsville on Thursday. Rain that had lasted for days was expected to give way to snow in the evening, possibly dumping as much as six inches of snow on the area. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thursday night's snowfall may not be around long, as temperatures are forecast to move above the freezing point today, but the storm was strong enough to close schools today and cause power failures in the area.

Schools in Henry County and Martinsville as well as Carlisle will be closed today due to the weather, according to their websites. The closing applies to all three campuses of Carlisle.

Appalachian Power Co. reported outages from the storm in Henry and Patrick counties. As of 9:30 p.m. Thursday, 2,300 customers were without power in Henry County and 384 customers were affected in Patrick County.

Information on where the outages are and how long they are expected to last was not available Thursday night.

By 10:45 a.m. today, 1,451 customers were without power in Henry County and 474 were without service in Patrick County, according to the Appalachian website.

The National Weather Service expected 3 to 5 inches of snow to fall across Henry County and Martinsville, and Patrick County was expected to get up to 8 inches. The area was under a winter storm warning until 1 a.m. today.

Freezing rain fell in the higher elevations of Patrick County at mid-Thursday afternoon, followed by snow. The ground was covered quickly, and there were reports of slick roads.

In the Fairy Stone area of Patrick County, sleet and snow, followed by rain, were reported between 5 and 6 p.m.

Rain, sometimes mixed with sleet, continued to fall in western Henry County and Martinsville early Thursday evening.

Today is forecast to be sunny with a high temperature of 39 degrees, seven degrees above the freezing point of 32 degrees.

“We will get abundant melting” then, said Phil Hysell, warning coordination meteorologist for the weather service office in Blacksburg.

Any snow that lingers Saturday should disappear quickly as that day’s high is expected to be 46 degrees, Hysell noted.

Lisa Price Hughes, the chief administrator at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) office in Bassett Forks, said Thursday that highway crews would work in 12 hour shifts to clear the roads of icy precipitation.

VDOT applies sand, salt and “brine” — saltwater — to frozen roads to clear them and give vehicles some traction.

Hughes said, though, that crews would not begin applying the abrasives to roads before Thursday’s rain changed to snow because “you can’t get them (the abrasives) to stay where you put them” when it is raining.

City public works department employees could not be reached Thursday for comment. However, they have said the city is fully stocked with salt as well as calcium chloride, a substance that is applied to slippery bridges.

Generally, both VDOT and the city work to clear the most heavily traveled roads before proceeding to lesser-traveled roads and residential streets.

Don’t be surprised if the electricity is out this morning.

“The weight of the snow could bring down power lines,” Hysell said, adding that power failures are more likely in areas where the most snow has fallen.

Dennis Bowles, Martinsville’s director of utilities, said city electric crews and tree trimmers with which the city contracts will be on standby in case they are needed to restore power.

He said the electric department’s vehicle fleet was checked to make sure enough power restoration supplies are on hand.

“We’re ready to cruise” if called into service, Bowles said.

In a release, Appalachian Power said its crews also were ready to roll.

Get ready for a lengthy cold spell. Daytime temperatures by the middle of next week are not expected to get out of the 30s, the forecast showed.

There is a slight chance of flurries or snow showers Monday night and Tuesday, but Hysell said he expects little, if any, precipitation to fall.

Still, the chill is “probably going to stick around for some time,” he said, based on computer models used in weather forecasting.


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