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Icy mess makes driving a nasty chore

Halifax County school students awoke to news that school had been cancelled Friday morning before the sleet and frozen precipitation began falling.

But the wintry weather did start falling earlier than forecasters had predicted when sleet started sticking to the roads and ground shortly after 10 a.m.

It was the second batch of wintry precipitation to blanket the area this month; however, Friday’s sleet pellets and ice contrasted to the heavy, wet snow that fell a little over a week earlier making driving even more hazardous than the previous storm.

The county didn’t see the light snow that fell on other areas across the state. Instead, about a half-inch of sleet and ice blanketed the roads and other surfaces making driving a chore by late afternoon Friday.

Some businesses opted to close early Friday, so employees could get home safely before the brunt of the icy precipitation arrived, and afternoon traffic on the main roads in the county was light for the most part.

The Virginia Department of Transportation listed rural roads in the county as “moderate” Friday — and drivers were urged to be cautious on the ice covered roadway. 

VDOT’s top road-clearing priority was the main roads and streets and residential neighborhoods followed after that.

Paula Jones, the media representative for VDOT’s South-Central office, said crews worked overnight Friday attempting to make the icy roads passable.

Crews were able to spread brine in advance of Friday’s storm that helped keep the ice from sticking as quickly to the treated areas. Major roads including Highways 58 and 501 were pre-treated with brine in preparation for the freezing precipitation.

This process helped prevent snow and ice from bonding to surfaces when the snow and sleet started falling Friday morning.

Many weekend activities were canceled or postponed including several Sunday church services.

On Sunday, the National Weather Service was forecasting a brief period of freezing rain later Sunday night and early Monday morning, but no significant ice accumulation is expected.