Lack of Snow Leaves Some Hanging

Warm February leaves plows idle, salt domes full across county.

It was the headline on the NOAA page that really summed up the weather over the last few months in Northern Virginia: "A warm February wrapped up a warm winter for U.S." it read. The average temperature last month across the country was 2.7 degrees above the 20th century average which is the third warmest February of the 129-year climate record. Virginia had its warmest February on record, and 0.4 inches of snow.

Although this part of the east coast isn't heavily dependent on snowfall, it is an economic factor for some. Pat Burns is a plow driver who counted on a few days plowing with the Virginia Department of Transportation every season and looked at this winter as “the worst season ever,” he said. He started plowing in 1998 and had some other drivers working with him during the snow season. Some of them are trying to sell their plows. “I have considered getting out of it,” he said.

VDOT's statewide budget for snow is $220 million this year. The fate of the unused money has not been decided, said Ellen Kamilakis, the Assistant District Administrator for Communications. The plow trucks are used for other duties and the salt can sit indefinitely, she said.

Students haven’t had a snow day either. There was one day in December where classes started two hours late, but no total snow days even though the school system has built in a few snow days into the yearly schedule. “We have not needed to use any of our built-in snow days so far this school year. We are fortunate this has allowed us to focus on in-person instruction for our students,” said Helen Lloyd, from the Fairfax County Public School office of Communications & Community Relations                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

There are a few ski areas within a couple of hours drive from Fairfax County but the weather hasn’t been favorable for them either. Ski Liberty website message “OPERATIONS UPDATE: LIBERTY MOUNTAIN RESORT IS NOW CLOSED FOR THE SEASON.” At Seven Springs a little further north, there were a lot of zeros on their conditions report. Zero snow in the last 24 and 48 hours, zero in the last seven days and a forecast of sunny and 36 degrees – not cold enough for snow.