The snow came earlier and heavier than expected. So when Loudoun County Public Schools made the decision to open anyway, a lot of parents lamented: "What were they thinking?"
That crossed Melissa Flaherty's mind, but she put her kids on the bus anyway.
"When I woke up and saw what I saw, I was pretty surprised," she said of the school system's decision.
By mid-morning, Loudoun County Public Schools apologized saying it "regrets any confusion or stress today's decisions may have caused." They added that its policies and procedures are being reviewed.
"The biggest fail, schools not being called off. That was the biggest fail," said Debbie Brown.
Her kids stayed home. They tried to drive, but had to turn back because the roads were so bad.
The so-called school fail dominoed into a road fail, adding cars and buses to slick, iced and snowy streets. Bad roads can make for bad drivers.
"They acted like they've never driven in this kind of weather before," complained Keith Rucker.
All the traffic hampered plows and salt trucks trying to treat and clear the snow.
"On Route 15 as an example this morning, there were two cars doing 10 miles per hour backing up traffic," said Steve Shannon, an administrator for the Virginia Department of Transportation in Loudoun County.
Several of his plow trucks had close calls with drivers trying to get around them.
VDOT admitted they had fewer trucks than needed with 500 in Northern Virginia for the expected 1 to 3 inches of snow forecasted. Instead, they got twice that in Loudoun County.
As the snow started piling up, VDOT ramped up, but not fast enough. A lot of people were not happy with that and the poor road conditions.
"They were going as slow as we were and it was still a mess," said Caitlin Toland, who was on the roads with her stepsister Tuesday morning trying to get to school.
By midday, the roads looked much better. VDOT doubled to 1,000 trucks to clear neighborhood streets and tackle any overnight freeze.
"Mother Nature doesn't answer to the forecaster and she certainly doesn't answer to VDOT," said Shannon.
Given the higher than expected snow totals, there wasn't a lot of love either for those who forecasted the storm.
"You would have thought they would have gauged the snow better from what happened in the Midwest," John Toland said.
He tried to make it to work, but also turned back. He and his family ventured out later for lunch since the kids couldn't make it to school either.
Others were a bit more forgiving. It's the first major snow of the year.
"I say better luck next time," Rucker said. "Nobody is perfect. People make mistakes."