Mother Nature has always been known to throw us a curve ball here and there, but this past Sunday, most of Virginia woke up to a pleasant, however unexpected surprise: snow. Parts of the New River Valley’s downfall exceeded 7 inches, while northern Virginia got around 5. Sunday’s storm had the streets filled with students building ramps and forts and seeking out the biggest hills to sled down.
Most, like Matthew Cook, were inconvenienced by the snow. He had traveled to Appalachian State University with his fraternity, but his weekend was cut short when they were sent home Saturday afternoon due to the impending storm. “It was bad enough we had to leave a day early, but the traffic we had to sit in turned our 3 hour drive into an almost 6 hour drive,” Cook recalled with obvious frustration.
But, for me and the group of people I was with this weekend, the snow was anything but inconvenient. We had made the 3 hour trek to Snowshoe in West Virginia in hopes that the ski resort would produce enough fake snow for us to ski all weekend, so imagine our surprise when we awoke Sunday morning to find that more than a foot of real snow had fallen while we were asleep. “It has been so uncharacteristically warm all winter that we didn’t think we would see real snow falling!” said avid snowboarder Brian Lusher.
Ski lift operator, Hank, has been working at Snowshoe for 25 seasons now and told us that “without a doubt, this has been the warmest winter, making it the slowest winter for us”. But that wasn’t the case this weekend, as hundreds of avid skiers and snowboarders made the journey in the dangerous road conditions just to get on the fresh powder that covered Snowshoe’s 244 acres of terrain. On average, snow season is 130 days long, with natural snowfall beginning in October and accumulating 200 inches. This season will be no different; the only exception will be the ratio of natural and man-made snow.
By Monday afternoon, the roads traveling all the way from West Virginia to Radford, Virginia, had all been plowed and there were only a few gasps as we went over the rare icy patch. Most schools, like Radford, chose not to close down for the day. Instead, much to everyone’s disappointment, campus opened up at 11am with sidewalks plowed and salt in place. Radford City Schools, along with most other public schools in the New River Valley, had classes cancelled Monday but resumed regular scheduling on Tuesday.