Season's First Major Snowstorm Blankets Charlottesville - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Season's First Major Snowstorm Blankets Charlottesville

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For the first time this winter, the Charlottesville area is getting hit by a major snowstorm. By Wednesday night, the city was covered in a thick coat of snow - projected to accumulate about 10-16 inches.

Most stores closed early but some restaurants are staying open as long as it’s not dangerous for the employees to be there. For many customers, Commonwealth Restaurant and Skybar is a place to go for warmth, electricity, and of course food.

“We were open last year when we got hit and we were busy,” said Skybar manager Tyler Hudgens. “All of our regulars know we have a generator, we let people charge their phones here, we feed people, we bring people in. We’re kind of like a community neighborhood setting for everyone to come hang out and be safe and warm.”

Snow routes went into effect at 6 p.m. in Charlottesville Wednesday and cars parked on snow emergency routes were towed. The city needs the extra street space to adequately clear snow.

Snow routes, including Market Street, West Main Street, Water Street, and High Street, are marked with signs. The city says the snow emergency will remain in place until it is no longer needed.

In addition to clearing streets of cars, Charlottesville city crews were out all day pre-treating roadways. But the city is reminding people they are responsible for their sidewalks. Snow must be removed from sidewalks 24 hours after the end of a snowstorm.

If the storm ends up knocking out your power, you may turn to a generator. But gasoline generators can give off harmful carbon monoxide, and Nick Barrell from SNB Services says when a generator is too close to a house, the ventilation system can pull in the exhaust, and the consequences can be tragic.

“The openings to your structure, you want to keep the generator more than five feet away to prevent any gasses from coming in as well as any fuel vapors,” Barrell said.

Carbon monoxide has no odor so it is especially hard to detect. Also, when you need to add more fuel, Barrell says you should be sure to let the generator cool off first.

Crews with the Charlottesville Fire Department spent Wednesday gearing up for the snowstorm, testing out chainsaws to make sure they are ready to go in case of downed trees and power lines.

They also put thick chains on the tires of fire trucks, which was a day-long process.

"You can't just pull up and snap them right on, as you guys have seen, you've witnessed it takes a little bit of time, it takes numerous man power to do it and they have to get them on and make sure they're working properly,” said Charlottesville Fire Department Battalion Chief Richard Jones.

The chains are also inspected beforehand to make sure all of the links are secure and ready to make it through the snow in case of an emergency.

Natalie Wilson, Maria Hallas, Marcella Robertson, and Rob Manch contributed to this story.

City of Charlottesville Press Release

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - Due to anticipated snowfall, the City Manager has declared that snow emergency routes in the City of Charlottesville will be in effect as of 6:00 pm on February 12, 2014.

When the snow emergency is in place, on-street parking is suspended along these routes. All snow routes have signage in place. The routes are Market Street, High Street, and Water Street in the downtown area, and the West Main corridor.

Snow emergency routes make the removal of snow easier and allow traffic patterns to return to normal as quickly as possible.

After 6:00 PM this evening, vehicles parked in the snow emergency routes will be subject to towing. This enforcement will remain in effect until the declaration is lifted.

The City of Charlottesville also reminds residents that snow must be cleared on sidewalks. Please practice common sense safety when clearing snow and help neighbors who may need additional assistance.

For more information on the snow emergency routes, click here.

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