Snow melted: But school's out... forever?

a-ivybridgeDowntown Ivy, Sunday morning and....

c-ivybridgethe same spot 24 hours earlier.

Unlike the late-December 'snowpocalypse' (not to be confused with this weekend's predicted 'snowmageddon') when fast and heavy snow scattered dozens of cars in a botched commute, a Hook reporter journeying from Ivy to Afton and then downtown via varying routes on Saturday, January 23, saw at least a dozen VDOT plows plowing–- and zero stranded vehicles. And although no asphalt was showing, traffic moved smoothly at speeds ranging from 35 to 45mph, and the next day black asphalt popped out almost as fast as the sun overhead.

Why didn't this happen last time?

For starters, the depth was less: 10.5 inches this time versus 20.5 inches, as measured at UVA's McCormick Observatory.

The other big thing was timing, says Lou Hatter, the VDOT spokesperson, pointing out that the December storm started piling up amid afternoon rush hour and creating a "bonding" experience that wasn't positive.

"The heavy volume of traffic during that afternoon commute," says Hatter, "coupled with additional volume due to the upcoming holiday, made it difficult for our trucks to get the initial application of sand and salt onto all the roads before the snow accumulated and got packed onto and bonded to the road surface."

In both storms, Hatter says VDOT crews applied an anti-icing brine mixture–- visible recently as stripes on Emmet Street. "But once the snow bonds to the road surface," he says, "it becomes much more difficult to remove.

By noon Sunday, January 24, even though the day dawned with single-digit temperatures, all the major thoroughfares were completely or nearly completely black asphalt, including Emmet, Main, JPA, Rio, and Ivy–- not to mention the busy Interstate 64 and the 29/250 Bypass–- as the potent mix of chemical treatment, plowing, solar radiation, and the constant pressure from rubber tires combined to keep the roads open.

What didn't open were Albemarle County schools. Already this year delayed for a false-alarm snow and then closed for flooding, they closed again on Monday, Tuesday, and–- due to another storm– on Wednesday of this 'snowmageddon' week.

"It’s a big county, and we figured we’d err on the side of caution,” County schools spokesperson Maury Brown said after the January 22 non-snow event.

But with snow falling as this issue of the Hook goes to press and as the new weekend 'snowmageddon' approaches, such hasty-in-hindsight closures may just meld into the history books of snow.

–story rewritten for print at 3:08pm Tuesday, February 2


Monday, 7:57am update: Despite the winning job of clearing all the primary roads to 100% black asphalt, all the major school systems are closed today. With the National Weather Service predicting a chance of rain and snow Tuesday afternoon, there seems less impetus to reopen them.

Sunday, 1:58pm update: The Hook editor put up a fresh slideshow slideshow button.inddfrom Sunday morning.

Sunday, 12:31pm update: All the major thoroughfares are completely or nearly completely black asphalt including Emmet, Main, JPA, Rio, Ivy–- not to mention I-64 and the 29/250 Bypass as a potent mix of chemical treatment, plowing, solar radiation, and the constant pressure from rubber tires has combined to reopen Charlottesville roads after a 9-inch snowstorm.

Sunday, 7:52am update: It's 4.4Ã?Å¡ F with no wind, rising barometric pressure of 29.73, and–- measured at multiple spots over hard surfaces–- a final snow depth of 9 inches. Don't count on much melt today or on any Albemarle public schools opening tomorrow, though, as the National Weather Service predicts a high in the upper 20s.

11:32pm update: It's slideshow button.indd19.5Ã?Å¡ F with a snow depth of 8.75" at the Hook weather station near Ivy, and the radar suggests there's a bit more to come.

7:21pm update: Unlike the 'snowpocalypse' when dozens of cars were scattered like toys due to a botched commute, a Hook reporter journeying today from Ivy to Afton via Routes 250, 240, and I-64, and then downtown via Route 250 saw zero stranded vehicles and at least a dozen VDOT plows plowing. Speeds ranged from 35-45mph though no asphalt was showing. Here's the day's chronicle in a slideshow.

news-snowstripes2The de-icing compound was applied in stripes Friday morning on Seminole Trail.

6:33am update: City crews are actually plowing, as the photograph at left (later removed–- sorry) indicates.


With the morning temperature just 19.7 degrees at the Hook's Western Albemarle weather station as the news day begins shortly befor 5:30am, the inch of snow that's fallen has been sticking, as the 5:21am webcam photograph of the Downtown Mall indicates.

Meanwhile, the National Weather Service has increased its snowfall forecast for Charlottesville from 4-6" to 6-10".

Stay tuned above here for periodic updates. Original story below:

Original 3:02pm January 27 headline:

"Another snow: Flakes expected to begin falling Friday night"

Just when most of the last brownish-white piles from the pre-Christmas "snowpocalypse" have disappeared, a new snow storm is rearing its head. This time, however, according to the National Weather Service, the heaviest band of snowfall won't be quite as widespread; but there are some double-digit depth estimates out there.

According to a Service map, the heaviest band of snow is currently expected in an east-west swath roughly tracking the Virginia-North Carolina border. That's not to say that Charlottesville won't get snow. It will. But how much is still unknown at this time.

"A winter storm with a potential for significant snowfall." says the Service. "There is some uncertainty regarding the track and timing of this storm, so please monitor the latest forecasts."

Albemarle County spokesperson Lee Catlin is urging everyone to stock up on their necessities now, presumably because of the mammoth traffic jams that accompanied the start and end of the last storm which caught many sectors of the populace–- as well as many road-clearing crews–- less than fully able to deal with the nearly two feet of snow.

6:58am Thursday update: Though the storm's biggest punch remains on track to fall south of here, the Service just reiterated its "hazardous weather outlook."

11:59am Thursday update: The track appears to have shifted just a bit to the south.

5:22pm Thursday update: The NWS now has our area on "Winter Storm Watch" with a forecast of "five or more inches." This time, though, instead of arriving at Friday's rush hour, the snow gods have graciously agreed to launch around midnight.

5:29pm Thursday update: And the nifty over-4-inch map has been revised in our direction!

6:17am Friday update: Latest estimate is 4-6" from the NWS office in northern Virginia, but the NWS station in Blackburg–- although we're just outside its map range–- appears to have us in a band expected to receive 8-10".

8:58am Friday update: Most schools closed in  Tennessee as storm creeps eastward.

2:44pm Friday update: "I'm seeing basically the same thing you're seeing out your window," says Blacksburg-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Dennis Sleighter. "High cloud cover moving into the area that's in advance of the new system." Sleighter says he hasn't gotten any reports of major snowfall arriving in Virginia yet, but his weather station is predicting over a foot for certain areas along the Virginia-North Carolina border. The latest official estimate for Charlottesville remains just 3-5 inches.

3:06pm Friday update: Latest NWS forecast calls for half an inch tonight, 2-4" Saturday, one more inch Sunday, and then sunny skies Sunday. (What if this isn't Snowpocalype II, after all?)

8:59pm Friday update: It's snowing in Greensboro.

5:01am Saturday update: About half an inch has fallen at the Hook's Ivy-area weather station, where the temperature is 20.3 degrees, and the wind is calm.


Latter headline: It's here: Predicted snowfall jumps to 6-10"
Another headline: "9 inches: Area gets cold but convenient snowfall"
Yet another: Potent mix: Brine, sweat, and sun combine for clear roads

Read more on: snow


Well, here are my 2 cents worth. I grew up in the NRV when the weather patterns were a little different. We could expect to have several 12 inch snowfalls each year and were prepared for them. I moved to Fluvanna in 1991 and for the most part there have only been a few significant snowfalls.
How do the county/city governments justify massive stockpiles of snow removal equipment and supplies for the infrequent snowfalls that occur here? Everyone of us complains about how they have cut this program or that program because there isn't any money. Which program should be cut so we can buy more plows to sit around and get rusty waiting for the year that we might need them?
As for gas and groceries.... you'd better believe that I'll be sure to have both. Last snow storm, it was 3 days before I could get home, and then another 4 before I could get my car home. My husband and my son were stuck in our house. I almost ran out of gas trying every road around to see if I could find one where I could get through to get home. After 4 hours, I ended up at a friends. Not everyone around here has the convenience of living where the streets are quickly cleaned or they are within walking distance of a store. My choice, I know that, so I choose to be prepared.
As for the whole out of snow shovel thing....didn't everyone get one in Dec. or do people throw them out when they are finished? Call me crazy, but I still have the shovel from the blizzard of '96!

Sounds like a stimulus plan.

MI, NY, VT, ID, CO. Maybe its just me but looks as though most of these cities are in the SNOW BELT.

Hey B, sorry if my agreeable sarcasm went over you.

Hey William! Take a few pictures, get a few names and turn your employees in..............

Anyone else think who follows the blogs around C-Ville that "Gasbag Self Ordained Expert" sounds exactly like the person that used to post as "Sick of the Local Rambos"? I sure as hell do. Let it snow!

I agree that comparisons with cities that routinely have to deal with much more snow than Charlottesville gets are irrelevant. But the city does face the possibility of large snowstorms and they can be prepared with equipment, training and strategies.

How do you think the city will do a better job this time if they did the best they could last time?

I would like to hear people say, "Wow that was a lot of snow but didn't the City and the community do a great job dealing with it!" It is possible. Hopefully some good will come out of the problems of the last snowstorm and we will see a big improvement. Maybe if we're really lucky the snow will track even further to the south and we won't have any snow to deal with!

Kevin Cox
Kevin Cox

Can't say we weren't warned this time and looks like Kevin Cox is being heard ( emergency snow routes in force) --thanks Kevin. Now we'll see how long it takes to shovel city sidewalks.

And, in case you've forgotten the last storm already, maybe these slideshows will joggle your memory--also pictures of the steel get you unstuck devices

I am a loyal son of the south who spent time in Vermont where they really know what they are doing. Watching the plows ride around for 3 days with shovels up is NOT the way to go especially when we're paying thsoe boys big overtime bucks to do a shoddy job. The county and city failed - badly. To the person stuck in their house for 5 days - really? You don't know anybody with a 4 x 4 who could come pick you up and get you out to the main road or pay a private contractor to plow your drive? Try a little self-sufficiency - I shuttled people from my neighborhood to the nearest store and then we all worked together to dig them out so they could go about their way in 36 hours. Then of course the plow came by and wrecked all our work. Morons.

boo!--I appreciate the correction, I've been known to give a few corrections myself

I agree that a little snow really slows this town down. I work alot in WVA and the northeast. Yes, they are well equipped to handle winter much better but sure notice alot of people who condemn our southern habits for some reason live here now!

lets see how the city does this time.....

I hope it snows a ton! This area has so many awesome hills for sledding. Don't stay indoors. Bring the kids outside! My 7 year old loves it.

It should not be about the fact that we are in the south, but if you don't like it here then leave! I was born and raised here and it was wonderful! Now there are way too many people here who don't care about our little town. There are houses, apartments etc stuck everywhere you look, buildings in our downtown HISTIORC area that don't fit in and people fussin' about being here. I just don't get it. You should be happy the biggest thing to talk about is the weather! Now we have a murder on our hands to talk about, I HOPE this does NOT make you happy:(

Hubby and I were on 29 North about an hour ago -- in the area of Rio Hill. 29 hadn't been TOUCHED by anything resembling a plow, just vehicle tracks from a small amount of traffic. WTF???

Oh, and going down Rio Road was a rear wheel drive car, the driver of which must be a MOran to the fourth power. Fishtailing all over the road, while constantly gunning the engine. Seriously dude/dudette -- what are you thinking????!!?? Please, dear God, tell me that he/she ended up in a ditch (unharmed) so that they didn't cause anyone else trouble.


" crews are doing the job"? The "mall" you must have been at was Fashion Square. The city crews that I saw on the Downtown Mall were doing the following:

+1) sitting in a white city pick-up with plow facing west, with his plow up, doing absolutely nothing but leaning against the door inside his truck. Meanwhile, a city driver directly east of his on the Mall was actually using his truck to plow snow around the Free Speech wall;

+2) another city employee in another white pick-up with plow up and facing north, parked on the sidewalk on the west side entrance of the transportation center, sitting in his truck and watching his co-worker shovel the walk.

Maybe it's time that people quit sugar-coating the city and start holding its employees and bigwigs accountable for what they do/don't do. It's obvious that they didn't do too heck of alot in the December storm. After hearing a lot of citizen belly-aching after that storm, the city came up with a plan: this time, they're working 50% harder as the last time. (Hence the one guy sitting watching the other work). And, when the next forecast calls for just flurries, they'll be out in 100% full force dumping mega-tons of salt/sand and running their new snowblowers even as nary a flurry hits the ground.

They'll be ready for summer by then, too. It will take 4 of them, armed with shovels to lean on, to watch one shovel into a pot hole.

Nancy- I can understand the UVA kids using pot, but not aure about the pans................

We were "warned" last time! It's SNOW- it stops when it hits the ground...........

Just came in from a snowy walk and it is COLD out there--but, oh so lovely. This time the flakes are light and dry, and I love snow silence, broken only by faint chirps of sparrows and mournful cry of the hawk.

mike or wiper man what every name your using this week.No cracks about buffalo yet,your slipping.They just had a foot and a half of snow and everything was open in THAT GOD FORSHAKEN place.Maybe cvilles biggest backers should take a road trip and see what the real world is like. Its the JEFFERSONIAN WAY BOYS .kNOWLEDGE IS KING, TRY GETTING SOME BEFORE IT RUNS OUT

The village did such a good job with snow removal that school is canceled. What is the point of moving the snow if there is no reason to step outside?

Stupid village, school is for smart people.

looking forward to summer when all the yankees start withering away and dying in the heat. vermont can shove it.

School is out until the teachers conferences are over- they take precedent over the snow.

schoool's out....for


Maybe this time around they'll remember to plow Airport Road in both directions... This morning at 9 AM it was as if Airport Rd East had never seen a plow... Headed toward the airport it was blacktop...

I guess they missed that in mapping out their scientific plow routes...

Looking at nine inches of snow beginning on Friday night into Saturday. One model shows up to 18 inches of snow headed our way.

Now, Confused, don't panic quite yet. A forecast five days away is somewhere between astrology and phrenology in accuracy.

The South is not pathetic, the little babies that sit on computers and find outlets like this to put others down because their are to tender to deal with a line at the grocery store are "Pathetic". You were probably one of the "smart guys" crashing their cars into everything begging for help after the storm because you didn't have enough common sense to stock up early and keep your butt at home where you could sit and complain about the south where sadly you happen to live. Look back the last time people thought it won't be that bad, we got nearly 2 feet of snow and I ended up stuck until a neighbor farmer had plow my driveway before I could get my 4x4 out. People have a natural survival mode and when they hear of coming hardships they jump to do what they feel is needed. And if the South vs the North vs etc. is not the point, why did you start the topic off about it? Maybe you should let your brain catch up with your mouth instead of trying to look as if you are the smartest little thing around.

A good reason for filling the tank when snow is on the ground is to add weight to the rear of a rear wheel drive car. At about 6 lb to the gallon, it's easy to have an extra 60-90 pounds of weight in the rear, which can make a noticeable difference in some situations. Sand bags in the trunk are another good source of extra weight as well as something that might be useful if you are stuck and need extra traction. It's helped me get myself unstuck a few times.

Thanks for the warning heading to the store now. Hope if we do get snow there is ample supply of shovels for sale, UVA kids on my block were using pots and pans last time.

Let it Snow!

Yesus Krist. When will a flake of snow stop being the main news story around here? Is the south really that pathetic? It was sunny and 60 two days ago and school was canceled. I guess the south is pathetic.

Now excuse me while I go rabid with the hordes currently trying to buy some bread and milk...since who could possibly live without those two things which can spoil very quickly.

I actually know people who waited until Friday evening, of the last storm, and couldn't stomach the lines at the grocery store, so went home -and their pantry's were bare, for days; not such a bad idea to plan ahead.

OoooooooHhhhhhh lordy let me fill up the car with gas at $65.00 a tank and run to the grocery store and buy a couple hundred dollars worth of groceries because God knows i won't be able to get out until atleast noon the next day. WHY do people fill up their gas tanks? Ever noticed that? I overheard people talking this morning saying "yep, we gona git 12 inches plus ! " This even before the news channels had made an attempt to estimate the snowfall.Just goes to show that the South is always up for a bit of gossip and story telling. AIN'T IT GREAT !!!!!

It's "pantries," not "pantry's."

(Sorry, stuff like that just bugs me.)

quote: "WHY do people fill up their gas tanks? Ever noticed that?"

If your power goes out, and you have no backup source of heat that doesn't require electricity.... you can sit in your car with the heater running for a very long time. It has meant the difference between life and death for many people in the past.

If you live in a rural, or given the last storm, not so rural area; you might want to consider investing in one of these gizmos --featured in a recent Hook slideshow-- which freed some very grateful individuals. I bought a pair, and now feel prepared, no matter how much snow falls. The company is based in Maine and is run by one of the friendliest, most helpful small business owners I've ever encountered.

"This even before the news channels had made an attempt to estimate the snowfall.Just goes to show that the South is always up for a bit of gossip and story telling. AIN’T IT GREAT !!!!!"

Last time we had winter-related gossip and story telling we wound up getting 23" inches of snow. So, ya know. And I don't know about you, but the long private road I live off of wasn't plowed out for 5 days. So good thing we had enough food and supplies on hand because we didn't go anywhere in a vehicle for almost a week. This time we're also going to be stocked up on food and water and pet supplies and other necessary supplies, and yup, the full tank of gas.

You can vie for the position of "#1 snarky bad ass" if you want to, whatever floats your boat, but I choose to be quietly prepared, just in case. To each his own though. But if our vehicles are stranded for another 5 days like before then it's good to already have everything we need so we can just sit back and chill and not worry about anything, patiently riding things out. Just like we did the last time.

Despite the fact that I have only been in Charlottesville for 6 months I must say that Charlottesville, local communities and VDOT for "state" road projects failed miserably... during the last snow fall (I grew up up north and it aint no big thing...just a way out for folks to make excuses as to why they failed) I live in N abemarle county in a development that is managed by real properties.....that was stranded for 3 days during the last snow fall. This is the worst management company I have ever seen and I can only expect that I will be "locked" into another 3 days of hell sorry...5 days until they get off their buts and do something.

I agree ontheroad....the majority of true natives in this area do not like the snow, we are not used to it and it's disruptive...and I was raised that if you don't have anything nice to say you should keep your mouth shut and say nothing! So to all of you that had nasty comments to say about us Southern people.... If you do not like it here in our beautiful South, please....go back to where you came from. No one is begging you to stay!


I am rolling in the floor laughing. MTT, we'll send you important updates by e-mail from now on! :)

Hey, folks, the track shifted just a bit to the south. We're still looking at snow, but perhaps less than previously predicted.--hawes spencer

I would hope we can still squeeze a nice 6" to 8" accumulation out of this system. Our kids just don't get to enjoy snow as often as we did when we were youngsters! :)

I've read people do better when they have something to worry about, that's not themselves ,and the weather is fairly innocuous on the worry scale. So, I just checked the latest forecast at the link above (weather underground) and the latest forecast states: no snow on Friday, but 90% chance on Saturday. But, if you check they are predicting 30% chance of pm snow showers and 70% chance on Saturday. Stay tuned

* Filling the car with gas is a great idea because gas pumps run on electricity. If electricity goes out to the gas stations, then your walking.

* I simply don't think the town/city has the resources to deal with a big snowstorm like they do in, say, Vermont. I mean really, how often does it snow more then a inch or two in Central VA? Give the city a break, they did the best they could with what they had. I'm sure they will be much better this time.

*A lot of people belly aching in their comments here. If your not a part of the solution, don't be a part of the problem. Keep your negative attitude to yourself. Yeesh!

It's still on track, folks!--hawes spencer


Thanks for the warning heading to the store now. Hope if we do get snow there is ample supply of shovels for sale, UVA kids on my block were using pots and pans last time.

You have to love the determination of the college kid's ...pot and pans lol .

I remember my first night away at college , the roomies and I had a jar of popcorn and no pots or pans to pop it in . We poured a couple cups in the bottom of the microwave and popped away , opened the door and walla a microwave full of fun lol.


Intresting you bring that up. I always thought there was more snow way back when but figured it was selective memory. Then after the last snowfall "The Hook" ran 10 greatest snowfalls and yes, a lot where from the 60's. I can remember my bus driver, Duck, installing chains on old bus 80 and off we went. Good Times!

amazing detective work there MTT, even if it's several months late

I'm with you Sick, give us as much snow as that storm has in it! i grew up in Los Angeles so I have a lot of catching up to do as far as snowy memories

The map is nifty and I too am wishing for some snow , 8" to 10" makes for much fun during the weekend .

I am a BIG kid :)


Does the map change as the prediction changes ?

Hawes is right - the map is nifty.

In Saturday's slideshow there's a pic of a girl sledding down the steps of the Rotunda, can't imagine what that would feel like. It's been fun walking around and seeing all the sledding spots, in the city, that people have found --one guy even constructed a stone wall in front of Moore's Creek, so he could sled down the hill at Eagle's Landing, and not get wet--glad to see the U is teaching these young folks to use their heads.

Not only does the map change, but different NWS offices (there are 3 in VA) give different depth estimates for Charlottesville: 4-6" from the NWS office in northern Virginia and 8-10" from Blackburg's office.--hawes spencer

I heard we might get 3 inches on Feb 25th. Please be sure you all get out there and start preparing now. Buy food, milk, beer, emergency kits, spare cars, water, shovels, and salt.

Do I have to leave work early today --when is the storm due to hit ?

Can't help it.."That specific to the general" thing which is all to common in politics and a fav. of Rush's. But that aside I cut and paste from the public works website of a well known New England town.

After the storm stops and we clear back all the roads we will then remove the plows and go back and sand or salt all areas. On Maine Street we clear the sidewalks and then windrow the snow into the center of this wide street. We have 30 miles of sidewalks and once the storm diminishes we concentrate on opening up the sidewalks. We first do the downtown area and the school zones and then work our way to all other areas. We have two sidewalk tractors for plowing and blowing snow and it will take us 2 to 3 days to get to all the walks we do. On narrow streets we often can not clear the walks until we can remove the street snow so the walks may be unavailable for a week or more.

I grew up with this and support it assiduously. I also support the same town's ordinance relating to sinks...'Cuz I'm such a tool y'know.

We now have a "winter weather advisory," instead of a winter storm watch. It's forecasting 3-5 inches. And Nancy, that is not supposed to start until very early tomorrow morning.

I would like to have 3-5 inches....................

4-6", 6-8", 4-10", what's the difference? Does it really matter? Unless it's 2 feet, like before, then it's not a big deal. Charlottesville saw how bad it can get. Anything else is like a walk in the park. "ONLY 7 inches? Dah! Who cares." Nothing tops the 2 footer.

As of 6pm the NWS office in Northern Va. is still holding on to their earlier prediction now 3-6" of snow --can't wait , sled ready, firewood piled high, soup made, birdseed in the feeder, and bread rising on the radiator. Let it snow !

Only a few inches? When I went to the store today it appeared as though people were preparing for 6 foot of snow. I have "never" in my life saw such a crowd. Every line was open, even the self check-outs, and it was a mad house!!!! People were backed up down the isles waiting in line.

and at 3:30 am Saturday, the snow has accumulated, just waiting for everyone to get up and expect the worst- they gave a snow party and no snow showed up!

Village elders declare closure of village for rest of winter. Don't leave your house until May at the earliest.

Raise your hand if you are dismayed by the fact that no one here in the south can drive if a flake of snow hits the ground?

All libraries are closed. Every store is closed. The baby breeder facilities are closed (but breeding results continue to be pumped out).

It's here :) . 17 degrees and a nice gentle snow .


January thaw, I hardly knew ye.

Gary Grant reporting on WINA: 2WD vehicles having trouble and getting stuck on 29N, by the Reservoir. And Lou Hatter, VDOT spokesperson, saying due to cold temps, sand and salt will not work well and snow will accumulate on roadways. Message from the boss--stay home, unless of course your vehicle is equipped with tractionaid, and you can get out of any ditch --if these storms keep up, we'll all need a pair of these.

Raise your hand if you wish Raman Pfaff would just leave Charlottesville already!

Yo Outskirts Cynic!
The city is open and city crews are doing the job. CTS is up and doing just fine. I just took route 1 up to the Mall. The driver did a great job driving in the snow and was on schedule. We had an emergency need for hot chocolate and bananas and the Main St. Market was stocked and ready. City plows are out and city parks crews are busy on the Mall. We'll see if they can keep up but I'm optimistic...this time.
Kevin Cox

Oops! TYPO ALERT! I meant MARKET St. Market, not Main St. Market.
Kevin Cox

I drove into town this morning and it's clear the public works maintenance paradigm hasn't changed...
Things they do all wrong here in the south:

1.) Rely on salt at the inception of a storm and use no abrasives. Abrasives make a gritty mixture with snow and provide traction. Salt is valueless in a heavy storm, especially a cold one where at most it makes the pavement surface even slipperier. Salt is for post storm cleanup..
2.) Wait too long until plowing starts. The crews spreading salt should be plowing from the beginning.
3.) Fail to turn traffic lights to blinking at the very beginning of a storm as is universal practice in northern towns. Traffic lights more than anything else are what turned 29 north into a parking lot the night of Dec. 18. People on arterials cannot be stopping and starting for lights, especially on grades. I look for cross traffic and run lights during storms, but most people are too conditioned to realize the lights are largely irrelevant during a heavy snowfall.

There are other points, but those 3 are the major ones.

I think part of the issue is that these storms keep hitting on weekends, and most people do grocery shopping on weekends and many eat out. I usually shop on Saturdays and knew last night that it would be wise not to try to drive today (I have a Honda Civic and it doesn't handle very well on snow) so I figured I might as well go and and do my grocery shopping. Apparently other people had the same idea. I didn't see anyone who appeared to be stocking up on a year's worth of milk and bread.

I don't think it's that people panic, exactly, it's just that we know from past experiences that when we get more than a couple of inches of snow, it will probably be about a day before people who don't have four-wheel-drive can safely drive. And we'd rather plan ahead so we don't wind up eating that 2-year-old box of pasta roni in the back of the cabinet.

On the road to reading comprehesion:

GB^10 claimed that snowbelt towns cleaned sidewalks for their citizens...

boo, one of my beefs with this city is the neglect we've seen of the infrastructure for years. I lay a great deal of the blame on our now soon to depart City Manager. Many city streets have no sidewalks, or ones in terrible disrepair, such as the one along JPA. It's great to have terrific services, but crumbling or absent sidewalks should be a priority.

There are cleared walkways on the Downtown Mall and the city Parks Department trucks made them that way. I saw the trucks up there too and they were pushing snow. It's quite likely the plow you saw was waiting for the snow to accumulate some more. Continuous plowing of a half inch of snow wastes gas. Also, it is really cold right now. The people that are clearing the Mall for you and me need to take some time to sit in those trucks and warm up.

There was a very vocal outcry from many people after the terrible job that was done last time. They are working to improve and they're working hard. I think the city will do a much better job this time. Then again, they couldn't do much worse. We'll see on Monday what kind of a job they've done. It's too soon to say.

I also think that plenty of property owners are going to do nothing this time because they saw that the police didn't/couldn't enforce the snow removal ordinance. I asked Chief Longo if the police would enforce it this time if the the city got their part of the job done. He never answered me, so I suspect he's waiting to see what things look like on Monday. Then again he may just have decided that the current ordinance is so poorly written it's best to do nothing. The current ordinance does need to be replaced.
Kevin Cox

again.............thank goodness for the Internet or there would be bloodshed at home- wives attacking their husbands. Now we just sign in and tune out

So thats govt workers. And you are shocked or surprised? Folks been complaining for years and we only give them more of our rights hoping they will take more responsibility.

Where's Hawes? Out rescuing stranded motorists, I hope.

I take credit for this snowstorm!

Allah be Praised!

WBF, you and I think so much alike --where is hawes, last update
6:33am --you're right, probably putting those tractionaids and that eyebolt thing with the nylon cord to good use, and hopefully, shooting a great slideshow to share with us shut-ins; like the one on that cute addition to the website-- "snow news"-- with a slideshow from the last storm " Digging out on Sunday" --maybe tomorrow the sun will shine like the last time, for now, still snowing and 8" measured in my yard in the City.

I really hope that people do make an effort if they're not elderly or disabled to shovel their section of sidewalk. Because the City seems to do such a poor plowing job a lot of us will choose to walk come Monday, maybe even Tuesday, and it'll be a nightmare if the sidewalks aren't shoveled. We'll have to walk in the streets, in the dirty slush. It's not fun. But when the streets are so poorly plowed and there's no street parking downtown and the garages are full then we kind of have no choice if we need to get to work, it's the lesser of the two evils. So here's a plea to all home owners along major streets with sidewalks...please shovel if you can! Help your fellow humans! And here's an early thank you for doing so!

(seriously, can we like, give awards or incentives to people who shovel their sidewalks?? ;D I know, I know, more reckless city spending. But seriously. Take the money they're going to sink into some pointless clock on the Mall and use it as incentive to people to shovel their sidewalks. Some people don't have it in them to be altruistic and pitch in, they need monetary bribery for everything, an "Oh yeah? What's in it for me?" attitude. So be it. Give them the clock money! Bribe 'em to shovel! :D Or better yet, get some ACRJ prisoners out there with shovels, doing community service or something. Make use of their time, since they have to be locked up.)

I hear ya OLR. I look at the "clock on the mall" thing and just shake my head like, WTF?? What are these people thinking?? Their heads are in the clouds, out in lala land. "We have some extra money. I know....instead of fixing up roads that need it or creating useful sidewalks, let's throw it away on a clock that nobody needs in this age of wristwatches and digital devises!!" You'd think with the economy taking such a huge downturn as it has the past 2 years that it would wake a lot of people up from the lala land dreamland stupor they've been in, make them do a priorities check, but no.

But back to the main story. I hope people shovel their sidewalks! Do it for the children! ;D

Then again he may just have decided that the current ordinance is so poorly written it’s best to do nothing. The current ordinance does need to be replaced.
Kevin Cox

It needs to be gotten rid of completely...
If the city feels the need to provide sidewalks (a good thing of course; it's a public good for the city to be hospitable to pedestrians), then the city should clear the sidewalks using public workers, prisoners, or whatever, but they should not make prisoners out of ordinary citizens who have the misfortune to own property next to a sidewalk...You think it's a good idea to compel me to shovel the street too?

Snow belt towns clear their own sidewalks; Charlottesville should too. The current ordinance is as arcane in its own way as the poll tax was..

Thanks hawes, love these slideshows, sure looked like winter wonderland today.

The task of clearing all the sidewalks that need clearing is too huge for the city to handle alone. Cities and town all over this country have snow removal ordinances because it's an unfortunate necessity. Some prisconers should be put to work clearing snow and the city should do the job for people with health issues, disability and other good reasons that they can't either do it themselves or pay someone else to do it. Here's a sample of parts of some ordinances from around the country. Many of them have some components that I think should be considered for Charlottesville.

Golden Colorado: The owner or occupant of a private residence or business is responsible for the removal of snow from the sidewalks adjacent to their property no later than 24 hours after the cessation of the snowfall.
Duluth, MN:Any person who owns, leases, or otherwise occupies property abutting any public sidewalk is required to remove any fallen snow 24 hours after the cessation of snowfall to create a clear path of a minimum width of 36 inches; also responsible to sprinkle sand and/or deicer upon ice when that ice cannot be readily removed. The City is responsible for the removal of snow upon sidewalks if, in the course of plowing, the City deposits snow upon that sidewalk.
Fargo, ND:The owner/occupant of any building shall clear the sidewalk in front of that building of snow and ice before 9 pm of each day. Failure to do so will result in removal by the City and the costs of removal and a fine shall be assessed against and a lien put upon the property.

Marquette, MI: Sidewalks are required to be cleared within 2 hours of cessation of snowfall if snowfall ceased during the day, or by 10 a.m. of the following day if snowfall ceased in the night. Failure to clear snow or ice from the sidewalk will result in removal by the City at the owner's/occupant's expense.

Boulder, CO:All owners/occupants of buildings abutting sidewalks shall clear the sidewalk of snow accumulation, to a width of no less than 5 feet, as soon as possible and no later than noon of the day following cessation of snowfall. Failure to do so will result in a notice to remove by the city manager. Failure to do so after notice has been given will result in the city manager removing the snow at the expense of the owner/occupant.

Boise, ID:Every owner/occupant of every building must clear sidewalks and gutters in front of this building of snow and ice by 9am every morning. Failure to adhere to this policy will result in a misdemeanor.

Missoula, MT:Every owner/occupant of land abutting a sidewalk shall clear the sidewalk of snow, ice (to include the use of sand or deicer when needed), slush, mud, and other impediments to foot travel by 9 a.m. the next day following a snowfall.

Burlington, VT: No person shall deposit snow in the street or on the sidewalk of a street. The occupant/owner of any building shall remove snow within 4 hours of cessation of snowfall if cessation occurs in the daytime or by noon of the following day if cessation occurs in the nighttime. Failure to do so will result in removal by the City at the owner's expense plus a fine of no less than $1 and no more than $20.

Rochester, NY:The owner or occupant of the ground floor of any structure must remove all snow, ice, or other impediments from sidewalks no later than 9 a.m.
Albany, NY: The owner or occupant of any house or building is required to clear sidewalks in front of the house or building of snow and ice within 24 hours of the cessation of a snowfall.
Syracuse, NY: The property owner must remove all snow and ice (use of salt, sand, or deicer is required when applicable) from the sidewalk in front of the property before noon of the day following cessation of snowfall or 4 hours after cessation if cessation occurs in the daytime.
Kevin Cox

Well, so I don't pass the "specific to the general" test. The northern New England town I am from only requires this of the owners of downtown businesses where the sidewalks go right up to their front doors. All others are plowed by the town... This is also true of many adjoining towns, but I'm not going to cut and paste any of that stuff in this venue. The fact that other places have similar iniquitous ordinances changes nothing; they are all still arcane.

I would expect Mr. Cox to make the argument he did; he is after all, what he is, a person joined at the hip to local government. If there had always been a law of any type, he'd likely argue in its favor, even if it were a law making it a felony to pee in the sink...

If I'm joined at the hip with local governement I think the city staff is going to check and see if their health insurance covers separation surgery.
Kevin Cox

I've heard tell that more babies are conceived during snowstorms and full moons--wow, that means we should see a real spike in Charlottesville. January 29th was the first full moon of the year; known in astrological circles as the Wolf Moon, should still be beautiful tonight--saw it early this morning in the western sky.

In addition to the snowy slideshow I also put up yesterday, I put up one from this morning.--hawes spencer

Hey-- the city actually did a good job on snow removal this time. They really removed it, didn't just shove it aside so it piled into impassable Matterhorns. Roads show black asphalt. Sidewalks, both public and private, walkable for blocks at a time. Unaccustomed as I am to flinging rose petals in these comment columns, this time the City gets a pat on the back and a "Bravo. Well done, you." (what some English dude said to me as I shoveled in front of my building).

A huge thanks to whoever plowed Fox Mountain Road--VDOT or private contractor. This doesn't happen very often. That plus no loss of electricity made this snowstorm a pleasure instead of a pain. We're all very grateful back here on a back of beyond back dirt road.

it aint a south vs north yankee vs confed thing sweetheart...dont get your panties in an uproar....the issue is that the powers that be (regardless if they are right left blue or grey) failed in the ability to support the community..that is the point. Folks can point fingers and double talk all they want but when you try to call for help over a weekend storm and you hear a recording that states " we have know about the impending storm for the past 10 days...and are planning for it" and they leaves one to question just how much lip service we are willing to put up with before folks realize that they can make a difference and sway the corporporate opinion.

I am tired of the double talk......finger pointing and diversion tactics that "political types" use to deviate from the important and honest subject at hand. They try to absolve themselves from any liability which is farther from the truth....they are just to weak to take the impact of their actions.

I heard up to twelve feet of snow starting yesterday and lasting through the next 3 weeks, non-stop. Hoard, hoard, hoard. Absolutely ridiculous!!! If Charlottesville gets half an inch the place turns into a friggin train wreck. People in this town can't drive on a dry sunny day much less add a little moisture and a flashing light........

They really do lots of whinning down here in VA. I can't hardly believe how they act over a little snow. It's freakin stupid!

Just updated: "5 or more inches."--hawes spencer

come on, snow! come on!