Snow hits Southwest Virginia; churches and VDOT crews prepare

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ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - Many in our region woke up to snow. The first flurries of 2016 caused Sunday church service cancellations and delays.

Now, the Virginia Department of Transportation is concerned the roads could ice over with Sunday night's cold temperatures.

The message they're pushing out remains the same - use caution when driving, roads can be slick.

It's exactly why some churches cancelled service hours earlier.

Despite the chill, many were welcomed at the door with a warm greeting. Many churches in the area delayed or cancelled Sunday worship, because of the snow.

"We have to consider the age of our congregation," said Pastor Ed Woodward of Central Church of the Brethren. "We have to consider just what the forecast is and how long. Accordingly, we might delay or we might not have a service if it really is dangerous."

Parish members at Central Church of the Brethren said they did not cancel service, because the light snow tapered off as it was predicted to do so.

Pastor Woodward told WSLS 10 his biggest concern is not the snow, but ice.

"Churches are pretty much following the same protocol of schools, said Bod Iseminger, chair of the board at Central Church of the Brethren. "If it's a safety factor then we would cancel just like a school would cancel. Although, we don't have buses, we have to deal with citizens of all ages trying to get here in vehicles."

VDOT said crews were on standby Sunday morning to clear the roads in Giles, Pulaski, Bedford, Martinsville and Roanoke.

"This was our first really snow dusting, I would say," said VDOT Communications Coordinator Jennifer Ward. "So, I think people were just being cautious."

Iseminger said it's typically a decision that's made two hours prior to worship. And, depending on where parishioners live, how slick residential roads are, and what VDOT is reporting - all play a factor into the church's decision.

Now, while the snow has stopped VDOT is warning drivers to be careful on the roads Sunday night.

The group said crews were out treating roads in the city and county in hopes to prevent icy road conditions as temperatures drop.