Day 1: Live-blogging the January 22-23, 2016, historic Virginia snowstorm

Snow 2016By Lynn R. Mitchell

I have never live-blogged a snowstorm. However, this is being touted as a possible historic storm with monster amounts of snow predicted — everything from one to three feet — with icing in North Carolina. Virginia is at the epicenter.

Blizzard warnings, dire alerts to stay home — not to mention that Virginia is under a state of emergency that was declared before it hit. As a snow lover, I’m excited about the white stuff but also cautious as they call for higher and higher amounts.

These are my observations of the storm from our home in the Shenandoah Valley, west of Staunton in Augusta County. Be safe and warm….

Friday, January 22, 2016
4:30am: Awake and checking Facebook and weather news outlets for the latest on a storm that has been building all week. Storm is still on track and moving a little faster than originally expected.

6am: Snow flurries reported in Lexington.

6:30am: Snow flurries reported in southern Augusta County. Temperature is 16 degrees.

I’ve got the crock pot started with Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken, a favorite and requested by Mr. Mitchell. Here’s the recipe if anyone is interested:

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken

Serve over rice or in a bowl with nachos on the side, and don’t forget the toppings. Chopped scallions, fresh cilantro, fat free yogurt or sour cream and reduced fat cheddar are my favorites.

Servings: 8 servings • Size: 1 cup • Points +: 4 pts • Smart Points: 4
Calories: 190 • Fat: 1.5 g • Fiber: 5.6 g • Carbs: 23.1 g • Protein: 21 g

Ingredients:

  • 24 oz (1 1/2) lbs chicken breast
  • 14.4 oz can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
  • 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 8 oz frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 14.4 oz can fat free chicken broth
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • salt to taste

Directions:
Combine chicken broth, beans (drained), corn, tomatoes, cilantro, scallions, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, cayenne pepper and salt in the crock pot. Season chicken breast with salt and lay on top.

Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Adjust salt and seasoning to taste. Serve over rice or tortillas and your favorite toppings.

7:20am: It’s hard to tell as it gets lighter outside whether there have been light snow flurries or if it’s frost on the grass and sidewalk. Update: It’s frost.

7:30am: Needless to say, the Weather Channel is on in the background. They have chosen to name the storm Jonas. I prefer to call it Winter Storm Lori because today is my youngest sister’s birthday.

8:00am: For weather nerds like me, you may find this explanation from DT at WxRisk interesting in explaining how the storm is lining up and what will unfold — and all the possibilities that can happen:

Looking out the window … it’s very gray, temperature is 17 degrees.

9am: Snowing in southern Augusta County but only the occasional flurry seen west of Staunton. Neighbors are out checking on neighbors. Our snow lights are on. Temp is 19 degrees.

9:10am: Fishersville Mike comment: “http://www.trafficland.com has all your camera. I-81 snow covered in Lexington, and snow on side of road in Raphine.”

9:12am: Snow is beginning at our house. Here it comes….

Bird feeders are full and the freezerless bird bath is filled. The birds are part of the entertainment when it snows.

Photo off the back deck just as the snow began….

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

10am: Snow began much earlier this morning in Blacksburg where there are now 5.5 inches on the ground. Here is a photo from son-in-law Colin taken from their house.

Blacksburg snow 1

Photo by Colin Lord

10:15am: One hour after the first flakes began to fall. I took this photo through the glass door of seven bluebirds at the bird bath.

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Radford earlier this morning. Photo by Alex Davis….

Snow Radford 1

Photo by Alex Davis

DT has his last call map from WxRisk.com….

WxRisk 9

11am: Just got off the phone with Bearing Drift colleague Matt Hall who said he has 6-7 inches of snow on the ground in Roanoke. Meanwhile, we’re at about an inch in my corner of Augusta County. Matt sent pics….

Matt Hall snow 1

Photo by Matt Hall

Matt Hall snow 2

Photo by Matt Hall

11:05am: High school classmate Jon said there’s 6 inches of snow in his corner of Roanoke. Now if I can get Trixie to check in … hey, Trixie Averill!

The Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken that started cooking at 7am is smelling really good. Meanwhile, I’m uploading pics from the bird feeder where dozens of birds are flocking to the smorgasbord during the wintry weather.

11:20am: Birds at the feeder….

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Virginia’s state bird stands out in the snow. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Noon: About 2+ inches on the ground. Mom reports a little less than that in Midlothian. I enjoy hearing from everyone all over the Commonwealth….

Winter Storm Lori aka Jonas continues as my sister celebrates her birthday in Midlothian. Our Texas sister sent birthday wishes: “Birthday greetings from Austin, Texas, where we’re salting the margaritas, not the streets. Happy Birthday, La!” Hmm … who’s to say we can’t salt the margaritas and the streets? LOL.

12:30pm: Bearing Drift colleague Brian Schoeneman has blizzard prep going on in Northern Virginia … yum.

Brian Schoeneman 13

Photo by Brian Schoeneman

It’s a winter wonderland at the University of Virginia where niece Emily took a picture out her window….

Emily snow 1

Photo by Emily

Traffic conditions on roadways in the Staunton-Waynesboro-Augusta County area: http://www.trafficland.com/city/SHD

12:45pm: It looks like we’ve got between 4-5 inches. Anna Lee said it has begun to snow in Centreville.

I saw this on one of my Grayson County cousin’s Facebook page … funny.

Snow 12

1:05pm: Temperature is 20 degrees with about 5 inches at my house west of Staunton.

Pictures from my cousin who lives outside Asheville, NC, where the winter wonderland has around 7 inches of snow with some sleet now mixing in….

Snow Rhonda 2

Photo by Rhonda

Snow Rhonda 1

Black Mountain. Photo by Rhonda

1:30pm: Heavy snow continues west of Staunton. Temp is 20 degrees and little-to-no wind and about 5 inches of snow.

 The Staunton News Leader has its own live blog going: http://www.newsleader.com/story/news/newsbeat/2016/01/22/snow-blog-welcome-winter/79158918/

Wintergreen Ski Resort issued a notice about operating hours during the storm:

Due to the severity of the storm, high winds, and the likelihood of power outages, the slopes will close at 5 pm on Friday, January 22. However, tubing will operate as scheduled, 1:3010 pm. The slopes will reopen Saturday morning with normal operating hours.

Guests traveling in 2-wheel drive vehicles should not attempt to reach or leave the resort during the storm. While our roads may still be passable, the state road leading up to the resort entrance is often not passable except with 4-wheel drive. Once the storm clears roads are quickly opened. Heavy snowfall and high winds make drifting snow on roads very difficult to clear. Once the storm is in full force, traveling to and leaving the resort can be very difficult even with 4-wheel drive. Please use caution and be safe.

Keep an eye on The Blog and Facebook –we’ll keep you updated about conditions.

1:45pm: Blogging buddy Jay Hughes is tag-teaming from Alexandria where snow has just begun to fall. Jay’s video gives a walkabout where he lives and he will be updating as the storm intensifies in the NoVa-DC area. Thanks, Jay … keep warm! Here’s the link to his video: https://www.facebook.com/jay.hughes3/videos/10206769557610175/?theater

2pm: What would we do without neighbors? Ours always clears snow off the driveway and today he got a head start to avoid it getting too deep. Thank you thank you thank you.

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

More pics from the yard….

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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The back yard is wonderland as the woods fill with snow. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

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Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

3pm: In the hour since Jay Hughes posted his video from Alexandria, snow has covered the street as the storm intensifies. Here’s his second video with current conditions: https://www.facebook.com/jay.hughes3/videos/vb.1012174983/10206770070582999/?type=2&theater&notif_t=mention

5:30pm: Watching the local news WHSV TV-3 and they are saying the snow “has just gotten started.” We have about 5-6 inches of snow out there and it is very sugary and fine. The wind has begun to kick up causing swirling white clouds of sugary snow to blow off the roof. The temperature is 18 degrees and the wind is making it very cold out there.

5:20pm: Jay Hughes has video #3 with updated conditions in Alexandria where a white blanket of snow is covering everything. Jay estimates about 3-4 inches of snow at this point with a projected 24 hours more of precipitation. Thanks for the video, Jay … keep warm! The link: https://www.facebook.com/jay.hughes3/videos/10206770680118237/?theater

Chris Saxman’s back yard in Short Pump outside RVA is covered in this photo he sent over. Thanks, Chris … stay warm!

Snow 13 Saxman

Short Pump. Photo by Chris Saxman

5:40pm: Niece Emily’s winter wonderland at the University of Virginia is prettier and prettier as the storm continues. She sent this photo a short while ago….

Snow 14 Emily

University of Virginia. Photo by Emily

5:48pm: Dinner on a snowy night … blizzard provisions. Photo by Matt Hall in Roanoke….

Matt Hall 10 food

Photo by Matt Hall

6:30pm: Brrrrr. Went out to get evening pics of the snow lights against the snow but it is freezing cold out there. I couldn’t hold the camera still long enough to get a photo that wasn’t blurry. In the front of the house, the wind was making snow swirl off the roof. Out back, the wind was roaring through the woods and along the ridge. What a difference between today when there was practically no wind, and tonight. The temperature is 17 degrees … don’t know what the wind chill is but did I mention it was cold? LOL. Be safe out there … the wind is frigid.

Here’s a VDOT website with snowplow information: http://www.vdotplows.org/

8pm: Jay Hughes went out in the dark and cold to check weather conditions in his corner of Alexandria where they now have about 5 inches of snow. He’s braver than I on this bitterly cold night. Here’s the link to update #4: https://www.facebook.com/jay.hughes3/videos/vb.1012174983/10206771469697976/?type=2&theater&notif_t=mention

9pm: Update from Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith….

To give everyone an update on the storm, the National Weather Service states the winter storm warning remains in effect until 6am Sunday. Accumulation of snow could possibly be 24 to 30 inches.

Please continue to stay off the highways as VDOT and contractors are working to keep them open.

As I said yesterday, be mindful of the elderly, neighbors, family members, and pets as this storm has the potential to get much worse.

I will continue to give you updates as I receive them. Again, all of us at the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office appreciate your patience with staying off the highways as much as possible. If you must travel, please be safe. In the event you need assistance, please call us.

9:15pm: The governor declared a state of emergency for Virginia on Thursday. Here is the latest update as the Commonwealth responds to Winter Storm “Jonas”….

RICHMOND – As the entire Commonwealth of Virginia experiences the impacts of Winter Storm “Jonas,” state transportation and public safety officials are continuing their aggressive, round-the clock effort to keep Virginians safe.

“Virginia took early action to get ready for this storm and we will continue to devote every necessary resource to minimizing impacts on Virginia communities and their families,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “This is a serious storm that is already creating public safety hazards across the Commonwealth. We are responding at full strength, but I urge Virginians to help our crews by staying in their homes until the storm has passed and roads are clear.”

As part of the state of emergency issued by Governor McAuliffe on January 21st, the following state agencies are providing support. This declaration will remain in effect as long as state resources are needed to assist local governments and Virginians affected by winter weather conditions.

  • VDOT is fully operational. Interstates and major roads across the Commonwealth are in moderate to severe condition with pavement mostly covered in snow and ice. Crews are working to clear interstates and primary roads first. Thereafter, they will work on major secondary roads with vital emergency and public facilities and then other secondary roads and subdivision streets. Crews are currently focusing their efforts on roads that carry the most traffic. In Northern Virginia, crews work interstates, high-volume roads, and in subdivisions concurrently. The storm is beginning to hit Northern Virginia. About 4,000 trucks loaded with materials are ready to go in that region alone.
  • Virginia State Police (VSP) has all uniformed personnel and necessary specialty units ready to respond to increasing volumes of traffic crashes, disabled vehicles and other storm-related emergencies. Between midnight and 1:30 p.m. Friday, the VSP responded to 117 traffic crashes across the Commonwealth. Most were in the Metro Richmond region and Hampton Roads.
  • The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 700 personnel on active duty, with personnel staged at readiness centers along the Interstate 81 corridor between Lexington and Winchester, along the Route 29 corridor from Warrenton to Danville, as well as in the areas near Richmond, Fredericksburg and Gate City.
  • The Virginia Department of Forestry has one chainsaw crew of four personnel in Page County providing specialized support with three regional chainsaw crews and three incident management teams on standby across the Commonwealth.
  • The Virginia Emergency Operations Center (VEOC) is at full activation with representatives from state and federal agencies, utility providers, and other response partners.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts, visit http://www.vaemergency.gov.

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6 thoughts on “Day 1: Live-blogging the January 22-23, 2016, historic Virginia snowstorm

  1. http://www.trafficland.com has all your camera. I-81 snow covered in Lexington, and snow on side of road in Raphine.

  2. […] also Live-blogging the January 22-23, 2016, historic Virginia snowstorm with photos from around Virginia of Friday’s […]

    • Molly Koon says:

      Love your Sante Fe chicken. Made it last weekend and so yummy. This weekend is my mother-in-law’s vegetable beef soup recipe and Larry’s favorite chicken noodle soup!

  3. Trixie says:

    Love all these winter pix!! You’re doing a great job keeping everyone updated – and I love the food pix too 🙂

  4. […] see photos from throughout Virginia during the blizzard, see Day 1: Live-blogging the January 22-23, 2016 blizzard and Day 2: Live-blogging the January 22-23, 2016 […]

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