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Snowstorm blankets southwest Virginia, KOs power

Motorists slide off the road along Garst Mill Road in Roanoke County, Va. during a snow storm on Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Icy roads remain a concern Friday morning and some school systems decided to open late. (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Don Petersen)

The Associated Press


GALAX, Va. — Sections of southwest Virginia were digging out Friday from under a foot of wet, heavy snow that downed power lines, leaving more than 100,000 customers in the state without power.

The first significant winter storm of the season topped off at 13 inches in Giles County, while Grayson County along the North Carolina border had 1 foot, the National Weather Service reported. The Galax area also had about a foot of snow.

The snow delayed Tammy Sawyers' trip to her downtown Galax shop, Personal Touch Florist, and when she arrived Friday morning she found ice covering the sidewalks after days of rain.

"We had a lot of rain, then I guess the snow started falling and it got mushy," Sawyers said. "It's nasty."

As for the snow, "I love it," she said.

The storm arrived late Thursday and continued into early Friday, leaving the greatest snow depths in the southern and western part of the state. Snowfall elsewhere ranged from 6-9 inches in the western mountains, several inches in central Virginia to a dusting in Hampton Roads.

Richmond reported several inches of snow, but the Lee-Jackson Day state holiday meant many state workers kept off slushy roads.





Appalachian Power reported 89,000 customers were without power Friday afternoon, down from a high of 121,000, while Dominion Virginia Power had nearly 2,100 customers out. Virginia electric cooperatives reported 9,000 outages.

Virginia State Police received more than 3,000 calls for assistance and responded to 588 traffic crashes and 615 disabled vehicles over a 15-hour period.

State Police said there was no immediate determination whether a fatal accident early Friday on Interstate 64 in Newport News was caused by the weather or road conditions.

The Virginia Department of Transportation closed the Big Walker and East River Mountain tunnels along I-77 late Thursday because of treacherous road conditions.

West Virginia Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker said officials didn't want cars and trucks at a standstill inside the tunnels, and the decision was made in West Virginia to reroute southbound traffic off the interstate at Princeton.

The northbound section of the interstate had been shut down in Virginia because of accidents before being reopened along with both directions of the tunnels Friday morning.

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