Radford, Va—People across the New River Valley got hit Sunday by the first significant snowfall of the season. Arriving two months into Winter, and riding on the back of unusually warm and pleasant February days, the storm was a bit of a surprise that quickly moved in and out of the area, and blanketed some locations with as much as nine inches of snow.
Radford and Fairlawn received a moderate amount of snow, which began to accumulate in the mid-morning hours on Sunday, February 19. Snow fell steadily through the afternoon, but safe road conditions in the Radford area didn’t begin to deteriorate until a sudden drop in temperature around 4:00 p.m., and according to The Weather Channel, snow fell at a rate of about one inch per hour across the New River Valley.
A few local residents were out and about in Fairlawn, where the milk and bread sections at Walmart seemed fully stocked like a usual day. Crowds had ventured in heavily on the day before, preparing for the storm.
Some residents came out for alternative snow day staples; sleds.
Jeremy Sturgill of Radford, was out at Sheetz gassing up, and he said that he was surprised and happy to see the snow.
“We just came out to buy sleds,” said Sturgill. “We’re going sledding at McHarg [Elementary].”
A little further down Peppers Ferry, it seemed like business as usual for Bucko’s cashier Terri Blanchard. Blanchard has worked at the convenience store for seven years, and she has seen a lot of snow days come and go.
“Well, they’ve been talking about [the snow] coming for the last couple of days, that it was coming, but in this part of Virginia, anything can happen at any time,” said Blanchard, who wasn’t taken by surprise by the storm.
Blanchard indicated that the store is usually busier before snow arrives, as people prepare for what is coming.
“They usually do, if they are preparing for a storm, they usually go out and get all of their supplies before it comes,” said Blanchard.
As for this snowy Sunday, Blanchard said business was a little better than on a normal Sunday afternoon, despite the weather.
“There are some people that will come out in any weather,” Blanchard said, “But there are those that will stay home, too. Actually, for a Sunday, I think we actually have more people out today, because Sunday is usually a pretty slow day for us, but for the weather… it’s busier.”
Snow continued through the night, and the storm pushed its way out of the area overnight and into the early morning.
In its wake, the storm left terrible conditions on roads, causing hundreds of accidents on the roadways. According to local NBC affiliate, WSLS 10, Virgina State Police responded to 598 calls for help between 10:00 a.m. Sunday and midnight Monday.
Power outages were another major concern during the fast-moving storm. Appalachian Power reported, as of about 12:15 p.m. Monday, 55,602 customers were without power. The company’s website said the number peaked Sunday night at around 66,000.
Radford University students were alerted by early-morning phone calls and text alerts reporting that campus would open at 11:00 a.m. on a delayed schedule.
Students hoping for cancelled classes took to Twitter to complain about the snow being cleared in anticipation of day classes on Monday. Twitter user Lori W. tweeted, “they are blowing the sidewalks again at 3am… determined for us to get to class. #notcool #radford.”
Other students were happy enough with the delay.
“Yeah, I liked sleeping in,” said freshman Brianna Jones , who added that she was not disappointed with the university’s decision.
The snow will likely all be gone by Thursday, as the forecast calls for more unseasonably warm temperatures throughout the week. A risk of refreezing on roads around the area remains a concern for Monday night, leaving the possibility of a slippery start to the day on Tuesday.