Shelter open: Worst conditions expected after sunset (updated 7:24pm)
7:24pm update: Dominion Virginia Power spokesperson Dan Genest just told a radio audience that 5,700 Central Virginia customers are now without power and that the rest of us should be prepared for a potential multi-day outage.
7:15pm update: Although some mixed precipitation has been observed around the area, according to a meteorologist in the Sterling weather center, it's not going to last. Snow will pick up again in the evening hours with an expected accumulation of 12-16" overnight and a total expected accumulation for the Charlottesville area now over two feet.
5:22pm update: Due to lots of fallen limbs and trees, Catlin urges anyone driving to carry a chainsaw and seeks members of the chainsaw-wielding public to assist the Emergency Services staff to help clear such blockages from roads.
"We are seeing an increase in the number of power lines down calls," Catlin says in a release, "a total of about 800 local customers without power according to Dominion Power."
For those without heat, a regional shelter opened at noon today at Monticello High School, according to Albemarle County spokesperson Lee Catlin, who notes that it will be staffed by Social Services, the Red Cross, the Health Department, and the County Sheriff's Department.
Catlin also notes that authorities have issued a call for drivers of four wheel drive vehicles to volunteer for emergency transport duty, and anyone interested should contact 979-INFO.
Heavy snow and high winds up to 25mph are expected tonight rendering travel unwise if not impossible. Although a Hook reporter just made the trek from downtown to Ivy around 4pm, and even though we find such driving enjoyable, non-essential travel is not advised.
An updated National Weather Service report suggests that today's approximately six-inch snowfall is a mere presage to near-blizzard conditions tonight. (Were it not for the near-arctic meteorological definition of a blizzard–- requiring winds at least 35mph–- this Snowmageddon would be a blizzard.)
Meanwhile, climatologist Jerry Stenger was just heard interviewed on WINA radio talking about widespread– not just higher elevation– snow depths over 30 inches.