RICHMOND – The first winter storm event of 2019 will bring bitter cold and a wintry mix of snow, ice and rain over parts of western, central and northern Virginia this weekend. While snow totals are not expected to rival those of the historic storm Virginia experienced in December, large portions of the Commonwealth can expect a weekend blast of snow, icy and cold that will make travel treacherous. State agencies are preparing to have additional personnel and equipment 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 Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) will coordinate with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), 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. VDEM encourages all citizens to plan ahead for winter weather threats including slippery roads, power outages, downed trees and the potential to have to be self-sufficient for days before all services are restored.
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 the Impacts of the Storm
Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are pre-treating roads where temperatures 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. You can track the location of most snow plows at VDOT’s Snow Plow Tracker. The tracker is activated once snow reaches two inches or more.
VDOT’s first priority is safety, and crews will work around the clock until roads are passable. “Passable” means drivable with extreme caution, but roads may be snow-packed and may not be cleared 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.
Tips for Motorists
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.
Slow down! 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 yourself 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 road conditions. To report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.
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.
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.
Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
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.
Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. 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.
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.
If you see lines down, call 911 or your power company.
To report power outages to Dominion Energy, log into DominionEnergy.com and check the map for updates. Stay clear of downed lines and call to report them: 866-366-4357.
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.