RICHMOND – Bitter temperatures and a strong storm front expected to pass through Virginia this weekend will set up conditions for a wintry mix of snow, sleet, ice, and rain over parts of western, central, and northern Virginia. Governor Ralph Northam has placed state agencies, including the Virginia Departments of Transportation and Emergency Management, and State Police, on alert. Preparations are being made to have crews in place on extended shifts and in greater numbers to address expected slippery roads, power outages, and other public safety concerns throughout the weekend.
“The forecast for this weekend calls for winter weather, which could result in widespread power outages and dangerous road conditions,” said Governor Northam. “Our state agencies are taking necessary precautions to keep everyone safe—I urge all Virginians to take this winter weather threat seriously and make sure your homes, businesses, and families are prepared for this storm and other events ahead this winter.”
“VDOT has taken measures to pretreat roads and prepare equipment, crews, and materials ahead of the storm,” said Secretary of Transportation Shannon Valentine. “Safety is our top priority. Driving conditions are expected to be hazardous, and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes and road conditions are improved.”
“The Virginia Department of Emergency Management will coordinate with the Virginia Department of Transportation, State Police, the Virginia National Guard, and localities across Virginia to ensure all necessary preparedness efforts are in place and any local needs for assistance are addressed before, during, and after this storm,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “Government alone cannot handle all needs for weather emergencies. This is why we encourage all citizens to plan ahead for winter weather threats including slippery roads, power outages, and downed trees.”
To learn more about how to prepare yourself, your family, and your business for winter weather, visit www.vaemergency.gov/winter-weather.
State Agencies are Preparing for Impacts of the Storm
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews have begun pretreating roads where conditions permit. Motorists are strongly encouraged to stay off the roads during the storm. For information about road and traffic conditions, check www.511virginia.org or call 511 before traveling.
The latest road conditions are available at www.511virginia.org, through the free mobile app or by phone by calling 511. You can track the location of most snow plows at VDOT’s Snow Plow Tracker. The tracker is activated once snow accumulations reach two inches or more.
VDOT has more than 2,500 crew members and more than 11,700 pieces of equipment prepared to respond to the upcoming storm on each 12-hour shift.
VDOT’s first priority is safety, and crews will work around the clock until roads are passable. “Passable” means it is drivable with extreme caution but may be snow packed and may not be cleared curb-to-curb or to bare pavement. Crews may sand hills, curves, and intersections to help with traction.
In advance of the pending winter storm, State Police are reminding all motorists to #Drive2SaveLives by driving for conditions.
While on the Road
Slow Your Speed: Whether the roads are icy or just wet, surfaces are still slick and can cause a driver going too fast for conditions to lose control.
Stay Alert: Avoiding distractions—phone, radio, food, etc.—and focusing strictly on your role as a driver and on the other vehicles around you significantly increase your chances of avoiding a crash. Multi-tasking while driving puts you and others at risk. Also be alert to changing road conditions, and share the road responsibly with all types of vehicles.
Buckle Up: Drivers and passengers should always buckle up for safety. If you lose control on a slick roadway and spin out, the seat belt holds you in place and will likely save your life.Only call 911 if it’s an emergency and not for information on road conditions.
What Citizens Should Do
Virginians should keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed, and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.
Download the VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp, or dial 5-1-1 from any phone.
Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper, and phone charger.
Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
Bring pets inside from the cold.
While you’re using heating equipment, make sure you keep a three-foot zone around open fires and space heaters, and remember to turn those space heaters off when leaving the room or going to bed. This goes for the furnace, fireplace, and wood stove, as well.
If using your fireplace, make sure it has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room. Ashes should be cool before putting in a metal container. Keep the container a safe distance away from your home.
Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information.
Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.
If you need help, information, or resources during the storm, call 211. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out-of-state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.
Remember, you should NEVER touch a downed power line. If you see lines down, call 911 or contact your local power company.
High winds and rain can cause trees and branches to fall, which may bring down power lines. Beware of any lines that may have fallen or come into contact with trees, debris, or water. Stay at least 30 feet away and make sure your family, pets, and neighbors also avoid the downed wire.
To report power outages to Dominion Energy, visit DominionEnergy.com and check the map for updates. Stay clear of downed lines and call 866-366-4357 to report them.
You can report power outages to Appalachian Power at https://appalachianpower.com/outages/report/ or call 1-800-956-4237.
Cooperatives have links on their websites for power outage reporting.