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VDOT Urges Severe Caution During Storm

With a winter storm warning for the D.C. area beginning at 6 a.m. Friday and 16 to 24 inches of  snow expected, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) urges drivers to exercise extreme caution this weekend.

VDOT has issued the following advisory:

Snow is expected to quickly develop across Northern Virginia late Friday morning to early afternoon, becoming heavy by late afternoon or early evening and continue overnight. The snow will persist Saturday but become lighter, before gradually diminishing during the afternoon.  In addition to the heavy snowfall, northeasterly winds will increase into the 20-30 mph range, with some higher gusts for later Friday night into Saturday. These winds will create widespread drifting snow and maybe some areas of white-out conditions.

VDOT Crews have begun pre-treating trouble spots on the Interstates, primary and major secondary routes. This involves applying chemicals to roadways before a storm to prepare the pavement and prevent a bond from forming between the surface and the snow and ice. VDOT uses anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride.

By noon Friday, VDOT will be at our highest level of mobilization utilizing approximately 1,800 trucks and heavy equipment district-wide preparing to treat and plow the roads throughout the duration of this storm.

Please remember crews’ first clear interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. As this is expected to be a multi-day storm with large snow volumes expected we will begin treating secondary roads and subdivision streets during the storm but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the heaviest traffic. We advise drivers to expect conditions on subdivision roads to vary from snow-covered to “passable” once a plow has made rounds. Plowing will not necessarily provide bare pavement or curb-to-curb clearance in these areas, and drivers will need to exercise caution. Each storm is unique with snow amount, wet or dry snow, temperatures and winds all affect our efforts to facilitate the removal effort.  Please be reminded that it may take up to 48 hours for crews to enter the subdivisions.

With the tremendous amount of snow forecasted, drivers are asked to avoid travel tomorrow and throughout the weekend. Instead we ask that they telework, use transit, and stock up on necessities this evening so that when crews hit the roads they can treat and plow more efficiently. Five inches of snow or more are expected by tomorrow afternoon’s rush hour alone, with wind gusts up to 30 miles per hour in the evening. These extreme conditions will cause snow to drift, limit visibility and make driving increasingly hazardous.

Through Saturday evening, the I-95/395 high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes will remain open in the southbound direction. The HOV lanes will be closed for snow removal on Sunday, Feb. 7.

For concerns during storms citizens can contact (703) 383-VDOT or email: [email protected].

DRIVING TIPS:

VDOT reminds motorists to use caution when driving during wintry weather. Drivers should:

  • Check road conditions before they leave home by calling 511 or logging in to 511Virginia.org
  • Slow down and allow for extra time to reach your destination
  • Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges
  • Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road
  • Do not pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary

For overall winter weather information, VDOT’s Web site includes frequently asked questions, driving tips and tools for motorists to learn more about VDOT’s winter preparedness at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp.

Drivers can also view videos detailing how VDOT prepares for winter weather and address snow and ice on You Tube. Snow videos are posted at http://www.youtube.com/user/vdotweb#grid/user/84A0942814F2FECC

For more information about Virginia’s efforts to prepare for winter weather and other emergencies, visit www.ReadyVirginia.gov. The National Weather Service, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Social Services and other state agencies have created the “Ready Virginia” resource to provide residents and visitors with a one-stop shop for emergency preparedness tips and information.