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County Spared Worst As Third Winter Storm Hits

Halifax County escaped the worst of the third storm of the winter as areas to the north took the brunt of the snow, sleet and ice.

Wintry weather began falling early Friday morning bringing hazardous conditions to the area, ranging from freezing rain and high winds to sleet, snow and ice. The precipitation began Friday morning as snow and later changed over to sleet and rain that continued throughout the day Friday and into Friday night.

The precipitation changed again to snow early Saturday morning, but it didn’t pose too much of a hazard in the southern portion of Halifax County. The northern part of the county experienced more measurable precipitation than in the south near the North Carolina border.

For the third time this winter, motorists were warned to be alert to rapidly

changing conditions associated with the winter storm that brought periods of snow, rain, sleet and/or freezing rain throughout Friday and Saturday.

Lynchburg northward had greater amounts of snow than in the southern part of the state.

South Boston recorded one-inch of snow over the two-day period, according to Marc Chenard of the National Weather Service in Blacksburg.

Snowfall totals for other Virginia localities recorded by the National Weather Service were Lynchburg—seven-inches; Roanoke—8.3-inches; Blacksburg—10-inches; Richmond—eight-inches; Charlottesville—13-inches; Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.—30 to 37-inches.

During the height of the snow Friday morning, the railroad crossing gate in Riverdale malfunctioned, blocking traffic in both lanes of Highway 58. Halifax County Emergency Services Coordinator Kirby Saunders said the gate would continually lower and raise. Traffic was reportedly backed up several miles, and VDOT snow plows were tied up in the traffic, Saunders said.

Norfolk Southern work crews were able to repair the crossing gates, and traffic began moving across the railroad crossing as normal.

Around 1 p.m. Friday, a tractor-trailer traveling westbound overturned into the median on Highway 360 near Clover, spilling wood planks into the median and across the highway, forcing officials to temporarily close lanes of traffic.

Shortly after 2 p.m. crews had reopened both eastbound lanes and one westbound lane. Trooper K. R. Martin is the investigating officer. No additional information was available at press time.

Two men lost their lives early Friday morning in a traffic crash in Southwest Virginia in which weather was a factor, according to Corinne Geller of Virginia State Police Headquarters in Richmond. In addition, Virginia State Police worked numerous traffic crashes and responded to multiple disabled vehicles as the winter storm made its way across the commonwealth, Geller said.

Shortly before 12:40 a.m. Friday, a passenger vehicle had spun out of control in the northbound lanes of Interstate 81 near the 58 milepost in Wythe County, just south of Exit 60 for Rural Retreat. The car came to rest in the left northbound travel lane. A 2005 Dodge Caravan pulled over onto the right shoulder so one of its passengers could render aid to the injured occupants of the disabled vehicle. Minutes later a northbound tractor-trailer came upon the disabled car. In an attempt to avoid hitting it, the tractor-trailer jackknifed and struck the Dodge Caravan, Geller said.

The driver of the Dodge Caravan, William Edward Smith Jr., 25, of Mooresburg, Tenn., was standing outside the minivan when he was struck and killed. His father, William Edward Smith Sr., 54, of Sylva, N.C. was inside the minivan when it was struck. Both men died at the scene. A third occupant of the Caravan, who was a nurse and was rendering aid to those injured in the disabled car, was not injured. State Police Trooper H.D. Mooney is still investigating the crash, and charges are pending at this time.

“Several Virginians have lost their lives due to winter weather this season, and we don’t want to lose any more,” said Michael Cline, state coordinator for the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.  “It is very important that everyone follow basic winter weather safety instructions and stay aware of the current weather forecast for their area.”

From 12:01 a.m. Friday through noon Saturday, Virginia State Police statewide had responded to 3,167 calls for service. Out of those calls for service, 1,323 were for traffic crashes and an additional 1,216 for disabled vehicles, state police officials said. The seven Virginia State Police Emergency Communications Centers across the commonwealth also logged 2,742 calls from the public for information during those 36 hours, officials added.