At the start of 2016, winter storm Jonas, a massive snowstorm, pummeled the East Coast with record-breaking snowfall, high impact winds, and deadly conditions. Richmond, Virginia was hit by this storm last week on January 22 and 23. This “snowpocalypse” brought out the most inefficient and idiotic sides of the Richmond community. Empty grocery stores, wrecks on the sides of roads, and schools and businesses closed for practically a week, demonstrating how unprepared Richmond was when the snow hit.
On the days leading up to the storm, many people decided that it was more of an apocalypse than a snow storm. Grocery stores were crowded with people scouring through the city trying to store up on food. Because of this, many people who did not go to the store until later in the week were also unable to purchase food for their families. People need to realize that because snow is coming they do not need to buy out the entire grocery store. Before the snow even arrived, salt was being put out, making it so there was not as much left for the time when the actual snow comes. This poor planning made it harder to clear the roads once the snow had fallen.
Despite the 16 inches of snow on the ground and the 42 snow-related deaths over the East Coast, some members of the Richmond community still chose to drive on the roads. Many of these Richmonders, who thought they could handle the harsh condition, drove on the roads without fear of getting into a wreck. Too much snow in some places and black ice where roads had been cleared led to unexpected conditions. Many people also drove with snow still on top of their car. This disrupted their vision and risked more accidents. When cars with two-wheel drive hit snow that is more than ten inches deep, they will get stuck and block the road for other vehicles. Even cars with four-wheel drive found it difficult to drive on black ice, leading to fishtailing accidents. Maneuvering in these types of conditions should be left to emergency vehicles only. Next time we receive this much snow, stay inside and watch the snow fall with a cup of hot chocolate.
Although the road conditions in many places were poor, by Monday snow plows and rising temperatures cleared all of the main roads. The side roads, on the other hand, were not cleared until later in the week. Neighborhoods continued to be covered in snow until the beginning of the next week. Julia Mitchell (‘17), says, “the neighborhoods were simply preposterous. I was sliding all over the place and thought I was going to crash.” Public schools did not reopen until the end of that week because the buses could not drive on the side roads. According to the city of Richmond’s Public Works Department website “bridges, major thoroughfares, and major arterial streets are given 1st and 2nd priority. Secondary arterial streets will be cleared to bare pavement within 24 hours after the snow has stopped falling, dependent on accumulation and temperature.” During the nights last week, temperatures were well below freezing, which made it difficult for the plows to remove the snow. According to Elizabeth Harrison (‘17), whose cousins live in Boston, “Compared [to] the northern states who receive more snow than we do, they have their snow cleared and kids back to school within a shorter time than we do.” This is because the cities up north have more plows compared to the city of Richmond. I believe that if we allow our city to have more plows, we would be up and running a lot quicker than this last storm allowed us to be.
The snowstorm of 2016 has come and gone and, with it, left room for Richmond to improve. The trip to the grocery store should not be so worrisome, drivers should not worry about totaling their cars, and plows need to be more efficient on when and where they clear the roads.
Featured image: Daniel Sangjib Min courtesy of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
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