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Wintry mix makes for nasty day on area roads

BY DONNIE JOHNSTON

It started out as a picture-postcard Christmas-season snow, but Wednesday rapidly deteriorated into one of the most miserable days in recent memory—especially for those living west of Interstate 95.

While Fredericksburg received only a dusting of white before the snow turned to rain, more than an inch of snow fell on Culpeper and Fauquier counties early yesterday.

Then, around 9:30 a.m., the snow in the Culpeper area quickly changed to a cold rain driven by a northeast wind and what followed was a day not fit for man nor beast.

By noon, the snow, which had been so beautiful at day’s dawning, had turned to an icy slush in Culpeper as temperatures crept from a morning low of 31 degrees to an afternoon high of 34.

While this slight rise in temperature spared the area from a major ice storm (1.2 inches of precipitation fell), icicles still hung from bare oaks and evergreen branches bowed under the weight of slush.

A few limbs broke and lights dimmed several times. No power outages, however, were reported in the Culpeper or Fauquier areas.

Slush, though not unduly slippery, remained on Culpeper side streets and in parking lots all day.

State and local police reported numerous fender-benders in the area—mostly before 9 a.m. Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said the agency received reports of 183 accidents and 33 disabled vehicles in its district that stretches from Fredericksburg to Harrisonburg and Winchester, but none resulted in serious injury.

This was the second snow event for Culpeper in less than 48 hours. About half an inch fell on Christmas Eve, providing residents with the first white Christmas since 2009.

It was the first time that snow had actually fallen on Christmas Eve in more than two decades.

This week’s snows are part of a weather pattern shift that forecasters say could bring more precipitation to the area in the coming weeks.

That shift could bring smiles to the faces of snow lovers and frown to the faces of those who must work out in the elements.

While skies are expected to clear Thursday, forecasts indicate that several inches of snow are possible west of Interstate 95 on Saturday and there are rumblings of a nor’easter Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

Donnie Johnston:

djohnston@freelancestar.com

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