What to do when a Richmond snow forecast is actually correct

In Central Virginia, it just doesn’t happen very often that meteorologists are right about snow storms. They forecast too much or too little, forecast storms that will certainly hit us but don’t, and forecast storms that will miss us but hit us. So when meteorologists began forecasting the newest “sure thing” in mid-January, McKenna went to a higher authority: Siri.


All of the local forecasters agreed with Siri, prompting the local school districts to preemptively close schools on Friday. This turned out to be an excellent call, as the snow started at 10am Friday morning.


Be sure to dress appropriately for the winter weather.


In McKenna’s experience, this could be as much accumulation as we would see for the entire storm, so she jumped at the chance to create a snow angel while the snow was still there.

People in central Virginia don’t screw around when this kind of snow is in the forecast. Not only had people bought up virtually every loaf of bread, gallon of milk, and liter of liquor in the tri-cities area, they had also bought up almost every sled. Fortunately, Amazon Prime came through again, saving me and Laura from our procrastinating tendencies one more time, as Prime had on Christmas. And every birthday for the last year. McKenna was barely able to wait until the snow had covered the grass to test out her new, very recently purchased, sled.


We walked up to nearby Woolridge Elementary School, where we knew there was a good hill for sledding. In spite of the lack of accumulation, the sledding was still decent.


And unlike on our old sledding hill, we wouldn’t have to worry about the family tendency to steer directly into mailboxes at Woolridge.


Other than sledding, McKenna’s great joy on snow days is to “eat” hot chocolate, so we returned home for her to consume hot chocolate made thick from melted marshmallows.


You might notice the lack of driveway shoveling. As teachers, we know that our jobs will not force us to leave the house in a car, so we shovel only what we need to for recreational purposes. See below.

By the evening, we had already got as much snow as we would for a “big” storm in Richmond. The typical changeover to sleet had occurred, making the top layer extra heavy. This was all great news for people who work in education.


The next morning, we headed up to the elementary school again. Surely, this being Richmond, the storm was almost over, right?


The grass was actually covered this time.


Time to get a second try out of the sled we purchased 60 hours ago!


The snow and sleet made the slides a bit more slick than they were normally.

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The wind started to pick up, and when it started snowing sideways, sledding and sliding was no longer quite as fun. We headed back home just in time for it to REALLY start snowing.


Laura and I wanted to see how much snow had fallen, so we picked a table on the deck to measure the snow.


Wow! Eight inches! That’s a lot of snow!


Wow! Ten inches! That’s a lot of snow!


Hmmm. I think we’re going to need a bigger ruler.


What state are we in?!

After almost two days of snow and ice, the sun finally came out on Sunday.


Time to see what 15 inches of snow is actually like. This was about twice as much snow as McKenna had ever experienced, impacting some of her normal snow activities.


Running into the snow = snow sucks boot off of foot.


Snow angels = being trapped in a snowy pit.

We decided to go see how the snow had effected the sledding hill and started the trek to Woolridge. Walking in 15 inches of snow is a full cardio workout. Dragging McKenna on her sled after several abortive attempts to let her walk in the deep snow was even more of a workout.


I needed a break before I started seeing visions of Obi-Wan Kenobi telling me to go to Dagobah.

When we made it to the sledding hill, we found that it was much more crowded than before. Apparently, most people prefer to go outside when it is NOT snowing sideways.


Because of the deep snow, the first few sledding trips weren’t as fast as before as we worked to pack down some tracks.


But soon…

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Of course, sledding down a steep hill at high velocity is never enough for the children. What we apparently needed here was enhanced risk; what we needed were some snow ramps.


After realligning our spines jumping ramps, we returned home to build a snow person. In spite of the warmer temperatures, the snow was still very powdery. We could only manage a miniature snow woman using the melty snow from the hood of the car.


Then there was the question of what to do with the deep snow on the driveway. Clearly, there was only one solution…



And of course, the snow mountain would not be complete without a risk-enhancing snow ramp.

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Finally, we returned inside for some food. While other Richmonders hoarded bread and milk, we stockpiled a variety of icings and sprinkles, which McKenna used to full effect to decorate gingerbread men.


McKenna is no minimalist.

By the time Monday rolled around, the temperatures had risen during the day and dropped during the night enough that the sledding hill was a sheet of ice.


So we encouraged our child to use the extra velocity to really get some air on the snow ramp.



It wasn’t just the children who were drawn to the snow ramps on this day…

McKenna REALLY likes to eat snow. Unfortunately, and to the shame of the family, McKenna took this love to the point that she would lie face down and lick the trampled ice, the same ice that dozens and dozens of people had walked on.


She only reluctantly stopped when I pointed out that someone might have stepped in dog crap and then walked on the ice. Reluctantly.

Tuesday, the temperature went into the mid-50’s. Normally in Virginia, this is how the roads are ultimately cleared of snow and ice – by a spring-like thaw. Not this time.


The Richmond plan for snow clearing was no match for a storm severe enough that it already had its own Wikipedia page.

The high temperatures had just made the snow mountain in our yard even icier, perfect for some night-sledding.


The snow mountain. It was an eventuality the writers of the Woodlake covenant never thought to address.


On this night, McKenna was moving too fast to try to eat the packed-down snow.



We were free to sled late into the night because we had received the following message when schools closed for all but office personnel:

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I was happy not to go in to school, although I would gladly have allowed them to come by the house for some pointers on snow clearing.


One week later – snow removal solution still working.

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