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Via:  TimesDispatch.com

By Rex Springston

Photo by: LINDY KEAST RODMAN/TIMES-DISPATCH

As people stocked up on food and shovels yesterday, the forecast for the approaching winter storm kept getting more ominous.

The immediate Richmond area could get 4 to 8 inches of snow, plus some rain or sleet, the National Weather Service said.

Parts of western, west-central and Northern Virginia could get 10 to 28 inches. Heavy snow and high winds in Northern Virginia could cause “near-blizzard conditions,” the weather service said.

David Tolleris, a commercial meteorologist in Chesterfield County, forecast 8 to 16 inches of snow in the Richmond area.

“This is going to be a big event,” said Bill Sammler, a weather service meteorologist.

Customers flocked to area grocery stores, stocking up ahead of the storm and another big event, Sunday’s Super Bowl.

It’s a tough storm to forecast, particularly in the Richmond area, where temperatures will be near freezing. A slight shift in location could mean you get more snow instead of sleet or rain.

“Five or 10 miles is going to make a difference,” Sammler said.

Parts of Goochland, Louisa and Caroline counties could get 6 to 14 inches, he said.

There should be less snow and more rain as you go east and south from Richmond. But high winds and flooding are possible in eastern Virginia, Sammler said.

This could be a record snow for some areas, said Jerry Stenger, director of the University of Virginia’s climatology office.

The snow will be wetter and heavier than the fluffy stuff last weekend. That means it could bring tree limbs down on power lines, causing blackouts.

“It’s not going to be particularly pleasant,” Stenger said.

Locally, the storm should begin today by midmorning with snow, or snow and sleet, the weather service said. That gradually could shift in the afternoon or evening to rain, sleet or a mix of the two, and that could continue through the night.

Snow could return tomorrow morning and continue to early evening.

People in the Richmond region have been preparing.

Pleasants Hardware expects to get a shipment of 1,300 show shovels and 1,600 bags of ice melt this morning for its eight area stores. The stores were out of shovels yesterday and nearly out of ice melt.

The chain had gotten a shipment of 800 shovels on Monday but sold out by Tuesday. The 2,000 bags of ice melt that arrived Tuesday were mostly sold by the following day.

“They were selling really fast when we get them in,” said John Wake, the chain’s vice president of retail commercial sales.

At the Kroger store off Chamberlayne Avenue in Hanover County yesterday, manager Jeff Malcomb was seeing a steady stream of customers.

“It certainly is busier than a typical Thursday,” Malcomb said. “No one is panicking yet.”

At the Market at Tobacco Row, Jim O’Ferrell picked up chicken, a California vegetable medley and rice so he could make dinner for band practice, last night, as usual.

He was hoping his Jim O’Ferrell Band would be able to play as scheduled tomorrow night at Bogart’s. If not, he’d be well supplied for the snow.

Evelyn Hicks was stocking up with beer and chips for a weekend at home, though it wasn’t about the Super Bowl. “For me, it’s snow. I’m from Houston. I plan on hibernating,” she said.

Rhoda Raymond said she took advantage of her lunch break to come to the store and get some groceries to be prepared for more snow.

“The last time [it snowed], I didn’t get any groceries, and I had to improvise in the kitchen,” she said.

State highway crews, many of which still were clearing roads from last weekend’s storm, yesterday were applying anti-icing chemicals to heavily traveled roads in advance of the coming storm.

Amtrak canceled most of its service today in Virginia. Amtrak’s Silver Service trains between New York and Miami will operate normally.

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