The Dig Out: Day 1

More Loudouners emerged from their homes today, finding buried sidewalks, unplowed streets and closed businesses. Conditions are expected to improve tomorrow, but it will still be several days before the county is fully dug out from the weekend’s blizzard.

Schools will remain closed Tuesday.

Snow crews have main roads open and passable, but only a fraction of neighborhood streets had been touched by Monday afternoon.

Farid Bigdeli, VDOT’s Transportation and land use director for Loudoun County, said this morning that the department hopes to clear at least one path on every street over the next couple of days.

“There is so much snow—that’s the biggest challenge—we’re having to haul it away using special equipment,” he said.

A man carries a bag of supplies down the street because sidewalks where impassable in Purcellville after a two-day blizzard hit the Mid-Atlantic with Loudoun County right in the bullseye of the worst part of the storm. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)
A man carries a bag of supplies down the street because sidewalks were impassable in Purcellville after a two-day blizzard hit the Mid-Atlantic with Loudoun County right in the bullseye of the worst part of the storm. (Douglas Graham/Loudoun Now)

Bigdeli said more than 4,000 pieces of equipment, much of it from other parts of the state, has been deployed and 5,000 individuals, including 780 VDOT employees and machinery operators are working around-the-clock shifts.

In Leesburg, plows have reached about a quarter of the neighborhoods. The town staff members urged residents to be patient, but could not predict when snow removal operations would be complete.

“There are so many variables, and even with all our efforts in salting etc., with frigid temperatures overnight, it’s refreezing,” Deputy Town Manager Keith Markel said. “Usually, we get 10 to 12 inches all at once. We don’t have the equipment to match that, so it will take three times as long to get it all out.”

In Purcellville, the town is digging out from 3 feet of snow and drifts up to 8 feet high. Town Manager Rob Lohr said the 36-hour storm outranks 2010’s Snowmageddon. “We’ve never been as overwhelmed as this one.”

Lohr said town crews managed to keep all the streets open until the storm hit high gear Saturday afternoon. But they have regained ground today.Shenandoah Street, Leesburg

“We were close to 95 percent open and passable, with a couple of small streets drifted over,” Lohr said around midday.

“The challenge now is the sidewalks,” Lohr said. “They’ve got 5 to 8 feet of snow on them and it’s almost impossible for citizens to clear them. We’re a very pedestrian-oriented town and we’re trying to figure out how to get them open.”

 

King Street