Here in Powhatan, snow is not something we have to deal with on a regular basis. Occasionally, however, “‘Ol Man Winter” seems to make up for it all in one day! Last week, we still had snow on the ground from our 6-8″ dump. A few citizens asked how we go about clearing ice & snow (and how can we do it faster!)…

VDOT is in charge of clearing the snow from our public roads. Since it would be silly to keep an army of plows and their crews throughout the year, Powhatan contracts about 15 small companies to supplement our plowing. That’s why you’ll see all manner of equipment out & about after a storm. So, what’s their strategy? Well,…

First of all, a lot depends on temperature. This last storm was extremely cold (think zero). Our chemical/sand mix needs temperatures in the 20’s before it does any good. That’s why you didn’t see any “sand” on the roads until it warmed up a bit. It would (literally) be throwing taxpayer money away. True, “up North” they have chemicals which work at much colder temps, but they are also more expensive…another waste of taxpayer money here in the “sultry South.” This is why the police tell motorists to stay off the roads. We are not equipped to prepare a safe surface for driving until weather conditions are right!

One other part of the strategy is to NOT clear the top layer of snow until we are ready to sand, since it would merely expose the sheet of ice beneath. Plowing and sanding begin when it will work. Sometimes that can take a couple of days. Another reason to not drive.

Last item- why are schools closed for days after a storm? Easy…safety! Your road may be fine. The main roads probably are. But, what about the secondary roads in the more remote segments of the County? What about those hills in the shade? Would you want school children standing near an ice patch in the early-morning darkness as a big ‘ol yellow bus approaches? Not this parent! Again, safety!

Conclusion? Powhatan strikes a balance between cost and rapid snow clearing. We simply cannot justify taxpayer money equipping us as if we live in Buffalo. So, here’s what you do…STAY HOME until we provide you with a safe surface on which to travel.

Do what I do! Put on a T-shirt, shorts, grab an ice tea, put your feet up, and enjoy the beauty of fresh snow. That’s what us Vikings do! Skoal!