What meteorologists are terming a “dangerous winter storm” is in the forecast for Southside Virginia.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for Halifax County from midnight Wednesday until 7 a.m. Friday.
“In the South Boston area, we’re expecting around a half inch of ice,” said William Perry, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg. “Best-case scenario is a quarter inch of ice — still a lot of ice. Worst-case scenario would be up to an inch of ice.”
Perry explained a coastal front is bringing two bands of low pressure to the area, and with it two different bands of precipitation – the first late Wednesday night and the second Thursday evening, with a slight reprieve during the day Thursday. The coastal front is packing a frigid punch of wintry weather from South Texas all the way up to New England.
The meteorologist said the majority of the precipitation in the South Boston area would fall as freezing rain, with little to no snow and sleet. The first round of precipitation is expected to start around 2 a.m. Thursday, with the second round tapering off late Thursday night/early Friday morning. Perry said temperatures would remain right around the freezing mark Thursday, dropping to around 30 degrees Thursday night.
Some melting of the ice should occur during the day Friday, with temperatures reaching into the 40s, but any liquid remaining on the ground will refreeze Friday night, when temperatures will dip into the low 20s, Perry advised.
Hazardous travel conditions, downed trees and more widespread power outages are predicted impacts of the winter storm.
Halifax County is still reeling from the impacts of last weekend’s ice storm that caused widespread power outages.
On Wednesday morning, 3,000 county residents still had no power as a result of last weekend’s storm, according to Steve Dishman, emergency services coordinator for Halifax County.
Dishman urged county residents to prepare for more widespread power outages from Thursday’s winter storm.
“Make sure you’ve got blankets and containers for extra water to get you through the power outage,” Dishman advised. “For those on oxygen, make sure you have extra oxygen on hand.”
Having an alternate heating source such a generator also is a good plan of action to prepare for an extended power outage.
Dishman cautioned those running generators during the power outage to run them in well-ventilated areas to avoid carbon monoxide buildup.
Along with power outages, minor flooding is another impact of the precipitation from last weekend’s storm coupled with this weekend’s storm. The NWS has issued a flood warning for the Dan River at South Boston until early Friday morning.
According to the NWS’s Wednesday projections, the river was predicted to rise to 24 feet, which is minor flood stage, at midnight Wednesday.
The Dan River is expected to fall below flood stage early Thursday afternoon and rise again Friday morning, peaking again at 21.4 feet – minor flood stage – Saturday morning.
Dishman cautioned the flooding could make driving even more hazardous.
“Use extreme care,” Dishman urged. “There are going to be some flooded roads in low-lying areas with all this runoff and melt.”
Several fire departments throughout Halifax County will be open during the daytime hours as warming centers for those without power to get a reprieve from the cold weather and charge their electronic devices. Those fire departments are Midway, Virgilina, Turbeville, Cluster Springs, Clover and Oak Level. The YMCA of South Boston/Halifax County also will be open during the day, weather permitting.
Hours for warming centers may vary. Dishman asks those planning to head to a warming center to call the non-emergency dispatch line ahead of time at 434-476-3334.
Halifax County’s emergency services office also is seeking additional partners to open more warming centers to county residents without power. Churches or civic organizations with available facilities are asked to call 434-476-6061 if they can assist.