Snowmageddon (aka snOMG) is Upon Us

The National Weather Service is calling for 20–28″ of snow over the next couple of days, beginning around dawn tomorrow. While this is less than the December Snowpocalypse, after the snow that we got a couple of days ago and the snow that we got a couple of days before that, we’re basically all dreading it at this point. Schools are closed in the city and the county, UVA has (quite unusually) declared that they’re shut down tomorrow to all but essential staff, and VDOT has signs up along 29 declaring that conditions are going to be very dangerous, encouraging people to stay off the roads. Where things will get tricky is tomorrow afternoon and evening, when the heaviest snowfall is slated to coincide with strong winds, which will—in the words of the NWS—”make travel very hazardous or nearly impossible.” If we’re lucky, this will all come down in the form of snow, as is forecast; if some of this turns into ice, we’re headed for a very unpleasant next few days.

If you don’t have a shovel, and if you’re not stocked up on food, well, too late. If you do wind up stranded in your car, or in a house getting dangerously cold without heat, then knock on a stranger’s door and ask for help rather than freeze to death. At home tonight, round up your batteries, flashlights, weather radio, sleeping bags, candles, etc., and prepare for the worst while hoping for the best. If you’re feeling anxious, do some panic-cooking so that you’ll have some vittles while the power’s out. Bring the cat inside. Basically, expect to spend the next 3-4 days huddled around our collective internet-based hearth on your favorite local blogs, Facebook, etc. If we’re lucky, the power will stay on, and that hearth will be purely virtual.

With the last big storm, the best outlets for regular updates about the outside world came from The Daily Progress on Twitter, CBS-19 on Twitter, and The Hook’s blog, so folks hungry for information might check there for the best updates.

52 thoughts on “Snowmageddon (aka snOMG) is Upon Us”

  1. Since this is suppose to be a big wet snow, don’t you think this could be even worse the last time? I do think people will probably be smarter about it this time.

  2. The folks at Nelson County Life also tweet and update the Facebook profile often with news, weather advisories, and photos. Since I live in town but work down there (and I’m not the only one), it’s been really informative!

  3. I don’t get a lick of credit for snOMG, but I quite like it. :)

    I’m panic dishwashing and laundry-doing (if we lose power, we lose water), while my wife is panic soup-making and banana-bread-baking.

    Now that I think about it, I think these snowstorms are raising our standard of living. :)

  4. I have ~24 hours of gasoline stocked for our generator, which we’ll need for heat in the event of a power outage. Hoping that’s enough….

  5. Joe Thomas and his crew at WCHV (AM 1260 and 94.1 FM) have also been doing great work in this winter’s storms. Coming on early, staying on late rather than turning over to syndicated shows. Inviting callers to describe storm situations they’re experiencing. Constantly updating conditions and closings. Making editorial comments that prompt listener interaction. They also do that twitter thang. By the way, I don’t work for them, am not related to them, and have not been paid for this endorsement. Enjoy your weekend, Everyone. I moved here 26 years ago from Iowa to get away from this winter madness. AAaagh!

  6. I don’t know where you live, Waldo, but if we get 28″ of snow, it will be MORE than what I got in December.
    Also, this snow is predicted to be the wet, heavy kind. This kind of snow is much harder to drive in, much harder to remove, and much more likely to cause power outages.

    Don’t be so sure that this won’t be as bad as the December snow.

  7. I don’t know where you live, Waldo, but if we get 28″ of snow, it will be MORE than what I got in December.

    We got almost exactly 36″ here in the Southwest Mountains of northeast Albemarle with the last snowstorm but, yeah, you’re right—I’d forgotten how significant the variation was across the region.

  8. I refuse to “panic” anything.

    If the power goes out I’ve got a small flashlight and a huge number of double A batteries to power it- and 4 new books waiting to be read.

    If I lose power- I’ve got a hand can opener and several canned food items for which cooking serves simply to warm it up, and which I can just as easily eat cold.

    And if I lose power, I’ve got plenty of blankets and the type of pets that like to pile on to share warmth.

    I’d say I’m all set.

    Except for the fact that I’ve got a job that expects me to attempt to show up for work (even in my ancient rear wheel drive sedan).

    I also quite like snogasm.

    That’s pretty clever. But I can’t see that many people getting that excited about snow. Except perhaps kids, and then it just seems a little wrong to be using that term in that context. ;)

  9. My kids were excited about the big snow in Dec., less so about the next snow, and pretty much tired of it all by the most recent one.

    They’re not at all excited about the coming storm.

  10. I’m betting most kids will start hating snow round about the time they lose days off of their spring break.

  11. Commonsense preparations, yes. Panic, no.Snow falls, you wade through it or shovel it, and it eventually melts. To me, a tropical storm with the possibility of high winds and tornadoes is more frightening.
    Losing power is an inconvenience and a nuisance. Would hate to not be able to make my morning coffee.
    I grew up in the country where sometimes prolonged power outages were not unknown.But the biggest concern was getting out in a deep snow to tend animals.Now granted, we had a nice wood stove.
    But compared to the state of affairs in Haiti we have no crisis here.I have recently watched the superb new documentary on Joan Baez How Sweet the Sound. She tells of her visit to Sarajevo when it was under siege, of how people were without food, water, power for months, and having bombs dropped on them as well.Of how when people went to a bakery for bread(about the only food to be had) they risked being killed because the enemy liked to strike places where numbers of people were present.
    No,I am not going to gripe about the weather. There are much worse things that could jappen than a snowstorm.

  12. Well said, HollowBoy. I’ll be bored and cold if my power goes out, but I imagine I will live through the ordeal. Stay in, eat whatever’s in the cabinets, and I have my dog (whose only thought is that he’s delighted that I am home with him) to keep my feet warm.

    Humans have a need for disaster hyperbole, but in the grand scheme of things, this is small potatoes.

  13. Losing power is an inconvenience and a nuisance.

    If we lose power here, our house will be at the same temperature as it is outside within twelve hours. We’re on a well, so that means no water. For many people, losing power is substantially more than an inconvenience or a nuisance, especially for the rural elderly.

    My wife and I are, against all logic, about to head to town. We had to leave our sick little dog at the vet last night, but they’re about to close for the weekend. But she’s still sick. So we have to transfer her to the emergency vet on Airport Road and then, somehow, go back to get her tonight or tomorrow to bring her home. I’m not sure how this will work. Just in case, we’re loading up the car: spare clothes, a sleeping bag, and our household 72-hour pack. Here’s hoping we don’t need that stuff.

  14. Sorry to hear about your dog, Waldo. That’s a potential worry for lots of folks. People have ambulance service, animals don’t. For pet emergencies during the storm, a wonderful vet has taken over the emergency clinic on Greebrier. Having two emergency clinics is a good alternative, especially for people in town. That drive out to Airport Rd might be difficult for many. Their number is 202-1616. (And no, I’m not affiliated with them in any way!)

  15. If you’re on well water, you should clean a bathtub with bleach, rinse well and fill with water. Then you have water for cooking and drinking for a couple of days. Also, don’t forget to keep on eye on the amount of snOMG on your roof. Two feet of wet snow can weigh as much as 20 pounds or more per cubic foot. Too much snOMG on the roof could cause it to collapse. You should have also tested out that generator before today. But, there’s no time like the present. If you have gas stove or fireplaces, you’ll need something to light them with, if you loose power. One last thing, park your car at the end of your driveway, but not so close as to get plowed in. Keep it at least five feet from the road edge. This way if you need to get out, you only have short distance to the road.

    @11:00 am we already have an inch in Earlysville.

  16. Power outages are starting- here’s a map that will clue you in-

    (of course if you are reading this it hasn’t hit you yet)

  17. This is Ado Annie, Jocelyn—our little weinerdog/Jack Russell mutt. We’re waiting at the emergency vet on Airport Rd now (it’s the closest one for us), where the doctor is attending to some more serious, sadder cases right now. Annie keeps trying to defend this exam room from perceived threats in the hallway, nevermind that she’s dragging an IV behind her. :)

    The roads we’ve been on are good. They’re treated, so it’s just slush on the roads, and the plows are out. I mean, don’t drive if you don’t have to, but things aren’t terrible. People are driving sensibly.

  18. I’m sorry you’re spending your day at the emergency vet, Waldo, and we all certainly hope Ado Annie gets better soon!

  19. Poor Ado Annie. I hope she gets fixed up and y’all get home soon. I bet Ladybird is patiently waiting for you to shovel out a pee path.

  20. Does anyone know what facilities the area emergency services have for getting to people’s houses in these conditions, particularly in the rural parts of Albemarle? It’s one thing to be self-sufficient during a storm, quite another to have a fire or medical emergency at one’s home while roads and driveways are yet unplowed.

  21. Does anyone know what facilities the area emergency services have for getting to people’s houses in these conditions, particularly in the rural parts of Albemarle?

    I believe the answer is the National Guard, but there’s some political/administrative procedures involved to designate this as a “disaster” and then they’d be working with the good folks at 911. You wouldn’t just call the Guard up.

    Maybe we all need to keep our own half-track if this winter weather is the new norm.

  22. my neighbor just brought over some sausage gravy and biscuits…..Yum…..let it snow, let it snow….

  23. Most of the fire/rescue companies have at least one 4-wheel vehicle. Those that don’t will be covered by those that do. Also, most of the volunteer companies personnel have 4-wheel vehicles as well and can respond from their homes. In any case, calls will be responded to as safely as possible.

  24. Hey Waldo, after the snOMG season is over. You should get a new picture of the new Engine 41 at Earlysville Fire Company for your site. Engine 45 is nice, but the new Engine 41 is way cooler.

  25. I’m sorry you’re spending your day at the emergency vet, Waldo, and we all certainly hope Ado Annie gets better soon!

    We decided to leave her there overnight, but the vet says she’s doing just great—taking medications orally now, rather than intravenously, and eager to get out of her crate and play. We’re to pick her up tomorrow, in theory, but we’ll see how that goes. :) As long as she’s healthy and safe there, I think I’m inclined to stay healthy and safe by not driving in this weather.

    my neighbor just brought over some sausage gravy and biscuits…..Yum…..let it snow, let it snow…

    Now that’s doing it right. :)

    You should get a new picture of the new Engine 41 at Earlysville Fire Company for your site. Engine 45 is nice, but the new Engine 41 is way cooler.

    If it gets sent out to the Free Union Parade in July, I’ll get a photo. :)

  26. Lost power 455AM. Kerosene heater goes on. Fireplace goes on. Candles and LED lantern lit. PUll out tableside waiter propane burner to make coffee. Power on 505AM….

  27. Eating lunch with the sun trying to poke its head through the clouds. Looks like it may be mostly over. I won’t lament the missed chance to set a new snowfall record, considering that what did fall through this morning is brickishly heavy to move around. Sorry for northern VA / Maryland getting the worst of it this time, but I feel like central VA paid our dues in December and I’ll take whatever relief we get.

  28. We just got home from driving from Stony Point to the veterinary hospital on Airport Road and back again, to pick up Ado Annie (who is fine now, BTW). They just moved to this new location, and they don’t have a generator yet; with their power flickering, they thought it was best that we come pick her up. Plus, she’s in good shape now.

    So, on the one hand, it’s really bad out there. Tertiary roads (is that a thing?) haven’t been plowed at all, so there’s just 15″ of snow and, if you’re lucky, a couple of tire tracks to follow. There aren’t many places where you can spot asphalt. There are very few cars on the road, and for good cause.

    On the other hand, eh, it’s not that bad. Though there are few cars, there were lots of plows. I’ll bet we saw two dozen of them. A few were VDOT’s, but the rest were deputized contractors from all over the state. It’s really pretty, with the roads narrowed by bent boughs, everything covered in a thick layer of fluffy snow. VDOT has clearly massed their resources here (perhaps wrongly, now that the brunt of the storm is up around Winchester), and after the snow stops tonight, I bet that all of the primary and secondary roads will be plowed by late Monday morning. There was plenty of time to see this coming, folks got stocked up, and people aren’t being dumb. (Except for the jackass who we saw stuck in a 15′ deep culvert next to 20N in a jacked-up Jeep last night.)

    My point is, don’t go anywhere. Even with my Vermonter father-in-law driving his 4WD SUV on virtually empty roads, there were some squirrely bits, and I was glad that I wasn’t behind the wheel. The snow will be done soon, and we can all start digging out.

  29. (Except for the jackass who we saw stuck in a 15′ deep culvert next to 20N in a jacked-up Jeep last night.)

    Hey I think I saw that same guy off the road and stuck in a field just outside of town on South 20 back in December.

    The major difference between this storm and the one in December (other than they type of snow- dry vs wet- and the amount of cars on the road) is that in December VDOT had that policy that they wouldn’t plow until after the snow fall stopped.

    And by that time it already had the chance to get packed down at the first few inches then semi-thawed and refrozen with snow on top of it.

  30. We haven’t seen a city plow yet, but we have a vigilante with a Bobcat up the street who has been running every hour or so since yesterday.

    We’re tertiary or quaternary, city street wise. And that’s fine by me. The less often the big plow comes through, the easier it is to dig my car out. Not that I’m going to dig it out anytime soon.

  31. Does anyone know why DOM does not police their lines? That is, clearing the tree and or branches that threaten to take the lines down. There has to be a reason, other than stupidity.

  32. Nope. I think It’s just stupidity. Maybe there’s extra revenue involved in there some where, but I doubt it. The most obvious answer is usually the correct one. So… Stupidity it is.

  33. I want y’all to know that I really feel for you, having been through the last ordeal in December right there in the thick of it. But in case any of you were worried about me, I’m sitting here in my hotel room in San Juan, Puerto Rico with a big bottle of Cruzan aged dark rum and some kiwis and sugar and limes. Its about 84 degrees here. I just came back from the beach again. There was a nasty rip-tide — but don’t worry, I’m ok. I picked up a coconut and some pieces of coral, and I had a few beers at the bar. I aleady uploaded the pictures to Facebook and I think everything is going to be ok.

    Things have been a little rough in the upgrade department, so I’m suffering like all of you have been. I’ll only be in first class for my flight from SJ to Atanta, and then from ATL to RIC I might be stuck in coach for 2 whole hours, which I bet is a lot like being snowed in with no electricity or water all day.

    Best of luck, my fellow Cvillenewsers. We’re all in this together.

  34. Steve Feb 6th, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    Does anyone know why DOM does not police their lines? That is, clearing the tree and or branches that threaten to take the lines down. There has to be a reason, other than stupidity.

    I’ve lived in Virginia for 26 years. In the late 80s or early 90s, I believe it was, there was an uproar in the General Assembly about how awful-looking some of the tree trimming had been near power lines. Power companies are restricted to only trimming what’s in their narrow right of way. So, in July they can see an 80-foot, elderly Virginia pine just outside their right of way leaning toward their line, but can’t do anything about it until it crashes into the line in winter and takes out thousands of customers who would like to stay warm in 15 degree February weather. I’m all for beauty and nice-looking tree-trimming, but there has to be a balance. Cheers!

  35. GG-Earlysville is right.. it’s the law. I believe it’s a 20 foot right of way (on each side of the line) they are allowed to clear. More than enough for a large tree to come down and take out some wires.

    I can’t find the CVEC comment I swore I saw the other day, but extending it to 40 feet on each side would cost them $1.6 billion I believe.

    A 2005 study concluded it would cost $94 billion to run all the lines underground.

    So .. yeah. Until the cost for those solutions come down, we’re probably stuck with situations like this. Me and my pregnant wife were without power from 8pm Friday to 11:30pm Sunday.. not fun. Hoping the next storm doesn’t do the kind of damage the last one did.

  36. Alright Toscano are you listening?

    There needs to be a law that says all future new development needs to have buried power lines.

    The rest of the burying of power lines should happen on a community by community basis. And should go to the top of the list if said community can afford to raise the money independent of government.

    I also don’t believe the 94 billion dollar figure.

    Lets re-calculate that dollar figure, excluding all major metropolitan areas and focusing on heavily populated rural areas and then use that as a starting point.

    I think we’d get a more accurate number that way.

    My theory- It’s the adding the major metro areas into the calculation that jacks the numbers up so high (and perhaps unrealistically/unreasonably so).

  37. Just Bob:

    The problem is if the major substations and such have their lines above ground.. lot of good it does you. I live in Lake Monticello, and we were without power for 53 hours, despite all of the Lake having underground wires. When you’re being fed from the outside by above-ground wires, it hardly makes you outage proof.. it’s basically cosmetic here.

  38. I found a link regarding that $94 billion figure via Google:

    A couple excerpts:

    “In public comments received by the SCC for the study, residential customers overwhelmingly favored placing utilities underground. But in follow-up questions, these same customers generally indicated they were not willing to pay enough to fully fund the work.”

    The typical “I want high quality services but I don’t want to pay for it.”

    “In 2003, Virginia’s largest electric utility Dominion Virginia Power installed approximately 96% of its new residential services underground. Appalachian Power installed nearly 70% of its new residential services underground, and Delmarva Power & Light installed 50% of its new residential services underground. Allegheny Power installed approximately 85% of its suburban and 50% of rural residential services underground. The exception was Old Dominion Power, which serves a mountainous area of southwest Virginia. Old Dominion placed 13% of its rural residential services and 8% of its suburban residential services underground.”

    So.. most of the power companies are already doing this for new developments, to some extent.

  39. In Tallahassee they have these great canopy roads where it’s basically all about the trees. They’ve got huge live oaks that cover the roads, and the City took the initiative to require that power lines must be rerouted or buried along these corridors. While I think their point for doing it was mainly aesthetic, it illustrates that if a community prioritizes burying utilities that it can me done (and in some places has already been done for a very long time).

    I kind of wish we had the equivalent here in Charlottesville. After all, seems odd that the ARB can regulate the most minor details of building color and design but then you’ll have these trees that the utility companies have butchered beyond recognition.

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