Saturday gridlock: Major roads were slow going or no going

news-stuckVDOTsnowplowOne VDOT snowplow unable to plow any snow. SLIDESHOW
PHOTO BY HAWES SPENCER

"I had no no clue," said Larry Powell, who set out Friday night from Landover, Maryland, in an 18-wheeler carrying a load of U.S. Mail south along Route 29. Although the heavy snowfall delayed his planned midnight rendezvous with another mail truck coming out of Greensboro, Powell was still trying to reach the Lynchburg exchange point Saturday morning when he had to grind his rig to a halt behind a line of emergency-blinkered rigs lined up near the village of North Garden.

"I was doing fine until I saw the flashing lights," said Powell, wishing the run had been canceled before he encountered the miles-long queue stretching north from around the Nelson County line.

That was enough to make Ian Judd turn back. Heading home to Lynchburg for the holidays, he drove from New York where he's a student at the Culinary Institute of America, but he ended up spending Friday night in his car in Charlottesville.

After setting out again Saturday shortly after 8am, he got stuck making a U-turn near North Garden. After a Black Jeeped reporter whipped out some steel tire grippers and an unknown samaritan from a red Jeep pitched in with some elbow grease, Judd got extricated so he could head north for "somewhere warm" in Charlottesville.

"I think I just need to park it," said Judd.

About three miles north of the spot where Judd got stuck and south of Interstate 64, a VDOT plow–- although equipped with tire chains–- had nosed itself helplessly into the Route 29 median. About 100 yards away, the steeply sloped ramp to I-64 West was crammed with equally immobilized vehicles.

Around this same time Saturday morning, there were 55 abandoned cars along Route 250 between Ivy and the 29/250 Bypass. But both major fuel stations along that stretch, the Shell and the Bellair Market, were open for business.

Bellair owner Pat Pitts admitted that she opened the popular gourmet food and gas shop 30 minutes later than the usual starting time of 6am. Normally, she'd keep the place open to 11pm. "But if it stays the way it is now," said Pitts, as snow continued to steadily fall, "maybe we'll close at dark."

–updated Sunday, January 3 with minor clarifying details

–orig. headline: "Beautiful gridlock: Major roads were slow going or no going"

Read more on: snowsnowfall

39 comments

New form of addiction--watching the webcam, love it . Called around can't find anything open.

They are treads or mats that you can unroll or unfold and put between the tire and the ground to give you something to get traction on... here's a plastic version...

http://www.amazon.com/Go-Treads-Foldable-Traction-Mat/dp/B001FRRLZ4

And yet, according to Rmond Times Dispatch, Short Pump is open....

Weather Underground and many other sources are calling this a Nor'easter.

The definition for such a storm at Wikipedia is: "A nor'easter (also northeaster; see below) is a type of macro-scale storm along the East Coast of the United States and Atlantic Canada, so named because the winds come from the northeast, especially in the coastal areas of the Northeastern United States and Atlantic Canada. More specifically, it describes a low pressure area whose center of rotation is just off the East Coast and whose leading winds in the left forward quadrant rotate onto land from the northeast."

I always thought the winds for this type of storm would come out of the North but apparently there is more to it, or other factors, more like a winter hurricane.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nor%27easter

Want to know the difference between a nor'easter and hurricane?

In a hurricane the idiots drive into deep water and float away.

In a nor'easter the idiots get stuck and cause problems for every other motorist.

Buffalo girl who was the bills coach for the 4 supper bowls ?

I have no idea what steel tire grippers are, but I'm wicked impressed that the reporter had them in his car.

I wonder if they are speaking of studded snow tires? If so, they ARE quite impressive in snow and ice.

On a sidenote, I can hardly wait to see how many people whine and moan about not having any mail delivery today.

I do hope that the US Congress can't get in Monday- what a relief that would be..............

Just stay home with a case of beer a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread and you'll be fine! That is unless you want to shop local and pay more risk your life to get to the barracks for shopping.Buffalo girl if your not from Buffalo shut your trap!

The downtown mall is open? All the have to do is sell 2-3 $7.00 starhills and a few $ 12.00 sandwiches and is all worth opening up in a snow storm.Buy local pay more .

Cabin fever, webcam shows life on the Downtown Mall, children playing in the snow, people riding bikes, walkers, and it looks like the movie theater is open --tried to call, but no humans answering; the taped message is a trip --lots of security and rules, don't go shopping and think your packages can accompany you to the movie; and if you're 17 or under don't even think about sneaking into an R rated movie, must be 21 to purchase tickets.

Hi Jim,

I'm from Buffalo, be well.

Skiers, thinking about heading up to Wintergreen, just read this at Chn29 :

"Skiers trying to get up to Wintergreen last night are stuck, apparently by the dozens. Indications are that Route 664 up the mountain is a parking lot with cars stuck on the road and in ditches. No word on how -- or when -- they'll be able to get moving."

Men's basketball game cancelled tonight.

City Resident,

I wonder the same thing as well. This may be what was needed to prove to rural legislators that transportation is not just a problem face by residents in NOVA and Hampton Roads.

According to the Hook Webcam, life has returned to the Mall. Does anyone know if there are stores open ?

Go StormTeam Hawes! Reporting on the news, rescuing stranded motorists, what can't he do?

It's bizarre how the Weather Channel's "Local on the 8's" doesn't report accumulations. Saying "one to two inches" overnight on top of....what? It's 5:30 and there's golf and football on local TV...who's got what and where?

Belmont: 23" - estimate

Webcam shows glowing red open sign at Christian's Pizza --hurray !

Jim, not much of a football fan, but my brother never misses a game--sad, four consecutive Super Bowl losses, coach Marv Levy.

Since this doen't have much to do with snow maybe I'll tell a Buffalo snow story. Buffalo almost never closed schools for snow storms, flat, great plows, but when I was 16 they did and I convinced my Mom, who couldn't stand the thought of 4 kids in the house all day, to let me take the car and the kids skiing at Kissing Bridge for the day. Nearing our destination, driving carefully and slowly, I rounded the bend and somehow the car tipped over into a snow bank, it was a strange feeling and we were let down softly into a fluffy snowbank ( having snowed over 3 feet the night before), yes, my mother was desperate --but it was a big station wagon, luckily no damage to car or person and a plow soon righted us and we had a wonderful day skiing in powder conditions. Oh, those were the days and now looking out the window I've got Buffalo on my mind .

Financial difficulties for many businesses, but not for all, as a result of the white stuff; just heard that a guy with a bobcat is getting $90 a driveway in the county--people are desperate, but sure hope they don't hit the roads.

beautiful is the right word. the bars are open, many sell soup. reminds me of home.

I wonder how budget cuts have affected this: "VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter says highway department crews are struggling to keep the primary roads passable. The secondary roads are covered with deep snow, and Hatter says it will be quite some time before crews can get to the secondaries." ( reported at WINA )

Now I know your from the B-Lo

If it wasn't for the internet, domestic violence would be at an all time high this weekend around here, with husbands trying to stop the bleeding from their wives smackin' the hell out of them

We got about 18-20" just E of downtown. Road plowed - a few spots of asphalt and lots of ice. Maybe in 6 hrs of shoveling people will be getting out. Most cars look like marshmallows still. I think we're closed on Monday too. We might walk over to the downtown though. Hear the Mudhouse and Christians were open yesterday, a neighbor walked over to UVA and a few restaurants open over there, 6th St Taphouse got pretty full they say...

Have not heard if this storm is a "record" yet. Looks like some agreement that it is the largest December storm that has been recorded. Apparently back in Jan 1772 T.Jefferson wrote in his diary about a 3' snow fall. Washington also mentioned it (though I assume he was not in C'ville). So we're not looking at a record for recorded history. Top 10 for sure I'll bet though.

power here in advance mills went out last night about 6 o'clock,
figured it would be a week or more before it came back on...
but, to my amazement, the lights came on about 3 am this morning.

hats off to the crews working on the power lines!!!!!!!!!
i can't imagine what the conditions were, just getting to
where the line was down seems miraculous...

must take a brave heart, indeed, to head out into a storm like that
to handle live high voltage main transmission lines... yikes!

everyone who lost power might take a moment to remember these
emergency crews working out in the drifting snow...

Looks like the elves have been busing clearing the Downtown Mall, pic on webcam. Unfortunately, there's no way I can drive on my city street, no plows yet, and just measured 18" accumulation. Advantage to city living, I can walk.

That's what you get for marrying your sister.A common practice among the locals I hear.

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Yes total support to James b kiracofe's statement about the workers bravery and talent and courage.

Mr. Kiracofe, it just takes overtime pay to get things fixed in bad weather.

Hey this snow is beautiful. I am writing from San Francisco CA and enjoy the banter and pictures of snow. Gasbag. What a great moniker.

Fabulous slideshow, great to send to our kids in warm, sunny places, yearning to be back in snowy Charlottesville. Mr. Spencer, you get the honorary "Buffalo Award" for best storm reporting in our area.

It snowed in the Bay Area a week or two ago. Of course, you had to be at elevation and it was only a dusting, but it was snow!

Yes, WestBerkeleyFlats, I was out on my bike at 900 feet in Marin County on my road bike. I was cold and a bit slippery. We had a cold snap here in NoCal.