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Via: TimeDispatch.com

1:30 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — A perfect combination of weather factors came together to create a nightmare commute this morning.

Heavy snow, stiff winds and quickly dropping temperatures made this morning’s storm look scary, and it made roads hazardous, said Wayne Albright, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“All the pieces came together for a bad morning,“ Albright said.

Adding to the meteorlogical factors was the decision by three of the four major jurisdictions in the Richmond metropolitan area, Henrico, Chesterfield and Richmond, to make a late decision closing schools, confusing parents and further clogging roads with cars and buses backtracking to return children who had already been dropped off at schools.

Area and Virginia State Police responded to more than 150 wrecks and traffic backups were widespread, from Midlothian Turnpike in western Chesterfield to side streets downtown.

About 2 to 4 inches of snow fell across the region. The snow started about 5 a.m. and ended about 10.

But the snow came down heavily between 7 and 9 a.m. just as temperatures dropped from 32 to 26, Albright said. That meant water on roads from overnight rains quickly froze, then the fast-falling snow covered up the icy hazards

Winds also picked up from a light breeze at 6 a.m. to gusts topping 30 mph at 9 a.m.

That combination “is a very unusual thing” in this area, Albright said.

On top of all that, it was rush hour.

“If this had occurred on a Saturday morning, [traffic problems] may not have been as bad,“ Albright said.

The weather service Tuesday morning forecast 1 to 4 inches for today and later amended that to 1 to 2 inches. But Albright said the amount wasn’t an issue.

“It’s a light snow,“ he said. “It’s not necessarily the inches of snow. Sometimes it’s the combination of the variables.“

The weather service had expected the snow, the winds and the falling temperatures. But the intensity of the snowfall — at a rate of roughly an inch an hour for a short period — was something of a surprise, Albright said.

Some unofficial snow totals as of mid-morning:

—2 inches, Winterpock (Chesterfield County).

—2 inches, Richmond.

—3 inches, Hanover County

—4 inches, western Henrico

—3.8 inches, Louisa

—1.5 inches, Prince George County

—4 inches, Albemarle County.

(This has been a breaking weather news update. Check back for continuous coverage throughout the day and in tomorrow’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earlier stories are posted below)

9:30 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — Late school closings, traffic backups and wrecks combined to make a miserable morning for thousands of parents and commuters across the Richmond region this morning.

Despite the forecast, some Richmond-area school systems seem to have been caught off guard by the snow and were scrambling this morning to close schools and return students who had already been bused or dropped off.

Snow began falling before dawn but conditions seemed to deteriorate quickly after daybreak, with traffic backups across the region and hundreds of wrecks reported by police agencies. Midlothian Turnpike near Woolridge Road and Route 288 was at a standstill, for example, with hundreds of cars backed up. Suburb-to-downtown commutes were taking upwards of an hour.

Some who were lucky enough to make it downtown without incident on the highways found getting around the streets to be a maze because of vehicles spinning their wheels in snow, ice and slush.

As of 8:45 a.m., authorities in the Richmond area were handling more than 150 reports of car crashes or disabled vehicles. Officials in Richmond and Henrico County estimated they were each dealing with about 50 such incidents, and officials in Chesterfield County estimated they were handling more than 40. In Hanover County, authorities are working about six or seven wrecks and have handled about 20 since 6 a.m. About 20 wrecks had also been reported in Powhatan.

Virginia State Police are investigating more than 40 wrecks on interstate highways in Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Goochland and Powhatan, said police Sgt. Thomas J. Molnar. About four of the wrecks caused injuries.

A state trooper’s vehicle was rear-ended on Interstate 95 in Henrico, but no one was hurt, Molnar said. He asked motorists to look for wrecks along roadways and to give troopers plenty of room.

Henrico County schools, which earlier had planned to open on time, closed schools on short notice after elementary students had been dropped off. The same was also the case with Richmond. Chesterfield County said middle and elementary schools previously were on a two-hour delay are now closed. Schools in Goochland and Hanover counties had closed earlier. Virginia Commonwealth University also made a late closing decision.

One spouse of a Henrico County teacher said his wife left for work this morning only to find that by the time she had battled the weather and reached the school building that school had been canceled for the day. Then, she became stuck in traffic during near white-out conditions on the Powhite Expressway, he said.

“It’s inconceivable to me that any reasonable person could have gone out at 6 o’clock this mornig and thought, ‘we should just start school at the regular time,‘“ said the spouse, who asked not to be identified.

Henrico County “couldn’t apologize enough to the parents of the kids that went to school and then had to turn around and go back home,“ one writer commented on TimesDispatch.com. “What happens if the parents had already left for work and no one was home?“

The National Weather Service says this morning that is still expects snow accumulation of one to three inches in the Richmond region.

About two inches has already been reported in Richmond, said James Foster, a weather service forecaster. But Foster said the heaviest snow should be done within the hour, with snowfall ending in the region by about 11 a.m.

(This has been a breaking weather news update. Check back for continuous coverage throughout the day and in tomorrow’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earlier stories are posted below)

9:15 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — Late school closings, traffic backups and wrecks combined to make a miserable morning for thousands of parents and commuters across the Richmond region this morning.

Despite the forecast, some Richmond-area school systems seem to have been caught off guard by the snow and were scrambling this morning to close schools and return students who had already been bused or dropped off.

Snow began falling before dawn but conditions seemed to deteriorate quickly after daybreak, with traffic backups across the region and hundreds of wrecks reported by police agencies. Midlothian Turnpike near Woolridge Road and Route 288 was at a standstill, for example, with hundreds of cars backed up. Suburb-to-downtown commutes were taking upwards of an hour.

As of 8:45 a.m., authorities in the Richmond area were handling roughly 150 reports of car crashes or disabled vehicles.

Officials in Richmond and Henrico County estimated they were each dealing with about 50 such incidents, and officials in Chesterfield County estimated they were handling more than 40. In Hanover County, authorities are working about six or seven wrecks and have handled about 20 since 6 a.m. About 20 wrecks had also been reported in Powhatan.

Virginia State Police are investigating more than 40 wrecks on interstate highways in Richmond and the counties of Chesterfield, Henrico, Hanover, Goochland and Powhatan, said police Sgt. Thomas J. Molnar. About four of the wrecks caused injuries.

A state trooper’s vehicle was rear-ended on Interstate 95 in Henrico, but no one was hurt, Molnar said. He asked motorists to look for wrecks along roadways and to give troopers plenty of room.

Henrico County schools, which earlier had planned to open on time, closed schools on short notice after elementary students had been dropped off. The same was also the case with Richmond. Chesterfield County said middle and elementary schools previously were on a two-hour delay are now closed. Schools in Goochland and Hanover counties had closed earlier. Virginia Commonwealth University also made a late closing decision.

One spouse of a Henrico County teacher said his wife left for work this morning only to find that by the time she had battled the weather and reached the school building that school had been canceled for the day. Then, she became stuck in traffic during near white-out conditions on the Powhite Expressway, he said.

“It’s inconceivable to me that any reasonable person could have gone out at 6 o’clock this mornig and thought, ‘we should just start school at the regular time,‘“ said the spouse, who asked not to be identified.

Henrico County “couldn’t apologize enough to the parents of the kids that went to school and then had to turn around and go back home,“ one writer commented on TimesDispatch.com. “What happens if the parents had already left for work and no one was home?“

The National Weather Service says this morning that is still expects snow accumulation of one to three inches in the Richmond region.

About two inches has already been reported in Richmond, said James Foster, a weather service forecaster. But Foster said the heaviest snow should be done within the hour, with snowfall ending in the region by about 11 a.m.

(This has been a breaking weather news update. Check back for continuous coverage throughout the day and in tomorrow’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earlier stories are posted below.)

9 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — Late school closings, traffic backups and wrecks combined to make a miserable morning for thousands of parents and commuters across the Richmond region this morning.

Despite the forecast, some Richmond-area school systems seem to have been caught off guard by the snow and were scrambling this morning to close schools and return students who had already been bused or dropped off.

Snow began falling before dawn but conditions seemed to deteriorate quickly after daybreak, with traffic backups across the region and numerous wrecks reported by police agencies.

As of 8:45 a.m., authorities in the Richmond area were handling roughly 150 reports of car crashes or disabled vehicles. Officials in Richmond and Henrico County estimated they were each dealing with about 50 such incidents, and officials in Chesterfield County estimated they were handling more than 40.

Henrico County, which earlier had planned to open on time, closed schools on short notice after elementary students had been dropped off. The same was also the case with Richmond. Chesterfield County said middle and elementary schools previously were on a two-hour delay are now closed. Schools in Goochland and Hanover counties had closed earlier.

One spouse of a Henrico County teacher said his wife left for work this morning only to find that by the time she had battled the weather and reached the school building that school had been canceled for the day. Then, she became stuck in traffic during near white-out conditions on the Powhite Expressway, he said.

“It’s inconceivable to me that any reasonable person could have gone out at 6 o’clock this mornig and thought, ‘we should just start school at the regular time,‘“ said the spouse, who asked not to be identified.

Henrico County “couldn’t apologize enough to the parents of the kids that went to school and then had to turn around and go back home,“ one writer commented on TimesDispatch.com. “What happens if the parents had already left for work and no one was home?“

The National Weather Service says this morning that is still expects snow accumulation of one to three inches in the Richmond region.

About two inches has already been reported in Richmond, said James Foster, a weather service forecaster. But Foster said the heaviest snow should be done within the hour, with snowfall ending in the region by about 11 a.m.

(This has been a breaking weather news update. Check back for continuous coverage throughout the day and in tomorrow’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earlier stories are posted below.)

8:45 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. — The National Weather Service says this morning that is still expects snow accumulation of one to three inches in the Richmond region.

About two inches has already been reported in Richmond, said James Foster, a weather service forecaster. But Foster said the heaviest snow should be done within the hour, with snowfall ending in the region by about 11 a.m.

Despite the forecast, some Richmond-area school systems seem to have been caught off guard by the snow and were scrambling this morning to close schools and return students who had already been bused or dropped off.

Henrico County, which earlier had planned to open on time, closed schools on short notice after elementary students had been dropped off. The same was also the case with Richmond. Chesterfield County said middle and elementary schools previously were on a two-hour delay are now closed. Schools in Goochland and Hanover counties had closed earlier.

(This has been a breaking weather news update. Check back for continuous coverage throughout the day and in tomorrow’s Richmond Times-Dispatch. Earlier stories are posted below.)

8:20 a.m.

RICHMOND, Va. —Richmond-area school districts have been scrambling to keep up with the weather this morning. Here’s the latest: Henrico County says it is closing schools this morning because of the poor weather. Richmond, which was open earlier, is now closing. Chesterfield County says middle and elementary schools that previously were on a two-hour delay are now closed. Schools in Goochland and Hanover counties are closed.

(This has been a breaking weather news update. Check back for continuous coverage throughout the day. The earlier story is posted below.)

RICHMOND, Va. —Snow began falling before daybreak across much of the Richmond region today, where another 2 inches is possible before ending about midday.

Many school districts were opening at their usual time, but Goochland and Hanover counties closed and many private schools were starting two hours late.

The repeat shot of wintry weather is part of the same system that is bringing snow and high winds from Virginia to Connecticut today after crawling out of the Midwest.

The Virginia Department of Transportation reported icy conditions on many roads across the region, and the threat of intensifying winds gusting up to 40 mph could create poor visibility.

The Richmond area is under a wind advisory posted by the National Weather Service. A low pressure area off the Delmarva coast will intensify as it moves northeast off the New Jersey coast, bringing rapidly strengthening winds by this afternoon.

What the Richmond area is getting will pale by comparison to another blast expected in the Middle Atlantic and extending to the northeast. Blizzard warnings were in effect there and snow of 10 to 16 inches and more is expected.

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