Communities around southwest, central Virginia prepare for Sunday’s winter storm

Local News

(Photo: Courtesy Wytheville Police Department)

(WFXR) — With a major winter storm expected to bring significant snow and freezing rain to western Virginia on Sunday, numerous cities and counties around the region are gearing up for wintry road conditions and power outages, as well as offering advice to residents about storm preparation.

Here is a list of southwest and central Virginia localities that have made announcements about the upcoming winter storm as of 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 14:

Botetourt County:

Botetourt County is closely watching the potential for winter weather beginning Sunday with an anticipated snowfall amount of approximately 8-12 inches, along with the possibility of icy conditions, frigid temperatures and 25 plus mile an hour winds.

In preparation, we want to remind our residents to:

• Monitor local weather reports from local news stations or follow US National Weather Service Blacksburg VA or The Weather Channel
• Stay off the roads if possible
• Do not call 911 for power outages unless there is a hazard
• If power does go out, use care with generators
• When shoveling, use caution to prevent overexertion and dress in layers to prevent hypothermia or frostbite
• Wear a helmet when sledding and make sure there is adult supervision
• Check on elderly or disabled neighbors

Botetourt County has compiled a listing of helpful numbers for our community to report power outages, downed trees, and road conditions.

Power Outages
Appalachian Power: 1-800-956-4237
• Dominion Power: 1-888-667-3000
Craig Botetourt Electric Cooperative: 1-800-760-2232

Road Conditions & Downed Trees – VDOT: 1-800-367-7623
Virginia State Police– 1-800-542-5959
**Please do not call 911 (unless there is a hazardous situation)**

The list along with winter weather safety information can be found at: https://botetourtva.gov/living-in-botetourt/winterweather/

Botetourt County Department of Fire & EMS and Botetourt Facilities stand ready to respond during the weather event. Make sure to follow Botetourt County and Botetourt County Fire & EMS on social media and at www.botetourtva.gov

Share your winter photos with us on social media with the hashtag #bocosnow

Statement posted on Jan. 14, 2022 on Botetourt County Facebook page

Campbell County:

The Campbell County Public Safety team is closely monitoring an approaching winter storm system, in collaboration with our partners at the National Weather Service and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.

At this time, weather experts are projecting that Campbell County could experience significant snow fall on Sunday afternoon, followed by sleet Sunday night into Monday morning.  These conditions can create dangerous driving conditions, as well as cause downed trees and power lines. These projections could change as information becomes available from the National Weather Service over the next couple days. We will update you as we know more.  

Residents are asked to prepare in advance and take some extra safety measures:

Driving: Do not travel unless necessary. This keeps roadways free of traffic and safer for you, for VDOT road crews, and for emergency vehicles. If you have to drive somewhere, watch for black ice, especially on bridges, curves, and overpasses.  Do not cross roadways obstructed with trees, debris or downed power lines. Assume all downed power lines are live. 

Family Needs: Have a supply of water and non-perishable foods should your power go out. Other items to have on-hand include:  flashlights, extra batteries, basic tools/manual can openers, first- aid supplies, prescription medicines, sanitation supplies, pet food and adequate fuel for generators and other equipment.

Pets: Make sure animals have warm shelters and ice-free water. Bring pets inside, if possible.

— CommunicationOnly call 911 if you are experiencing an emergency – this keeps call lines open for those in urgent need. Call your private internet or power service provider directly if you experience an outage.  Remember to fully charge cell phones, computers, and mobile devices in advance. Sign up for CodeRED weather alerts in advance at www.campbellcountyva.gov to keep informed of weather warnings.

Personal Health: Take it slow when shoveling snow! If you need to shovel snow, be sure to take breaks. The cold temps with the extra exertion can put extra strain on heart muscles. Keep hydrated, dry, and warm.

— Heating: If you need to use a generator, place the unit outside to reduce the risk of toxic fume build-up. Use extra caution if using wood, kerosene, or other fuels as supplemental heating sources – make sure you have good ventilation.  Refill heating units outside. Keep space heaters away from flammable items.

Community: Be sure to check on neighbors or those in your area who may need assistance.

“We’ve been in daily contact with our regional National Weather Service teams and the Department of Emergency Management as this storm tracks east,” says Tracy Fairchild, Director of Public Safety. “Our teams our positioned and ready to assist with emergencies. However, we ask that residents continue to do their part to minimize that risk to themselves and others during these weather events.” 

Visit www.campbellcountyva.gov for resident updates or follow Campbell County Department of Public Safety on Facebook.  For more information on winter storm emergency preparedness, visit our Public Safety preparedness resources page.  

Statement released on Jan. 13, 2022 by the Campbell County Department of Public Safety

Christiansburg:

Christiansburg Public Works crews have been pretreating the roads for the past couple of days and wanted to remind residents to avoid parking on the street. This allows crews to plow the roads fully and safely, as well as prevents residents from being blocked in by snow.

Please also remember that it is a good plan to always shovel your driveway and sidewalks after Public Works has plowed and widened your roadway.

Crews will begin 24-hour snow removal operations at 8 p.m. on Jan. 15 and remain in these operations for the duration of the weather event.

During a weather event, Public Works will address primary roads first—main thoroughfares to other streets with higher traffic volume. After approximately 50 primary roads in town are cleared, crews will turn their attention to the nearly 400 secondary roads. Don’t worry—every public street in town is included in snow removal!

Please also remember to plan for potential power outages. For more info about how to prepare for a storm, visit christiansburg.org/inclementweather.

Stay safe and have fun!

Statement posted on Jan. 14, 2022 on the Town of Christiansburg Facebook page
(Photo: Courtesy Town of Christiansburg Facebook)

Danville:

UPDATE 2:00 p.m. 1/15/22: Danville officials say that anyone who needs a shelter will have one if they need it. Find more details by clicking here.

Public Works Department crews have begun pretreating the major thoroughfares, bridges, and overpasses because of a winter storm that is forecast to bring snow and possibly sleet and freezing rain to the city over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg says the storm that will produce accumulating snowfall, possibly mixed with sleet and freezing rain. At this point, however, there is uncertainty over the timing, type and amount of precipitation for Danville.

“We are waiting on the storm to evolve,” meteorologist Erik Taylor said Thursday morning. “We will be collecting more data today and looking at changes in the computer models.”

Taylor said a high-pressure system north of the region will determine the storm’s timing and make the difference in whether the storm will be an all-snow event for Danville or a mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. A mix of precipitation would suppress snow accumulations, which he said are too early to project.

The storm could arrive late Saturday night, but it is more likely that it will begin Sunday morning. Currently, the peak of the storm is expected on Sunday afternoon, but continuing overnight before ending Monday morning.

Citizens should monitor the latest forecasts for any changes in track and timing.

Public Works crews are pretreating the major thoroughfares, bridges, and overpasses with brine, which is a mixture of water and salt. The water in the brine evaporates, leaving the salt behind on the road. The salt breaks the bond between the snow and the roadway, and it, therefore, helps prevent the snow from freezing onto roads and bridges.

Residential streets are not pretreated.

Public Works trucks are mounted with snowplows. When the storm arrives, crews will begin working 12-hour, round-the-clock shifts. Crews begin plowing major thoroughfares when an inch of snow accumulates on street surfaces.

Residents and visitors can learn more about snow removal operations and read winter safety tips by visiting the City’s weather page: danvilleva.gov/weather.

Danville Utilities crews are prepared to respond as needed. In the event of large-scale outages, crews will work staggered 16-hour shifts. Customers are encouraged to review the Danville Utilities’ storm preparation guide: https://danvilleutilities.com/attachments/2021_Danville-Utilities_Storm-Preparation-Guide_INT.pdf

If any resident or visitor needs shelter, then they should call the City of Danville non-emergency number, which is 434-799-5111, option 8. Arrangements for shelter will be made.

Statement released on Jan. 13, 2022 by the City of Danville

Galax:

Our area is poised to receive a significant snowfall starting Saturday night into Monday. Temperatures will expected to remain low, so little to no melting will occur until possibly late Tuesday. There is also the possibility of high winds.

While we are all accustomed to snow in our area, we would like to post a few reminders that may help make the event safer and as enjoyable as possible.

Now is the time to prepare. Stock up on supplies you may need so you don’t have to chance traveling on snow covered roads. Make sure phones are charged. Have a plan in case the power goes out.

If you want to get a second opinion on the road conditions, please call 511 or go to https://www.511virginia.org/. DO NOT Call 911 or the police department. Dispatchers are busy handling emergencies, even without snow.

To report a power outage or check on when power will come back on, go to https://www.appalachianpower.com/ . 911 and police dispatchers do NOT know anything about the power company.

City crews will be working to clear streets as quickly as possible. They will focus on the main roadways first. If the main roads aren’t clear, it’s not going to do any good to get a neighborhood street cleared. They also assist Police, Fire and EMS with clearing for specific emergency calls, so please be patient.

Statement posted on Jan. 14, 2022 on the Galax Police Department Facebook page

Lynchburg:

According to the National Weather Service, a winter storm is forecast to impact the region starting early Sunday morning, January 16 and continuing through Monday morning, January 17. Snowfall is expected with significant accumulations. There is also the possibility of sleet and freezing rain.

The Public Works Department is prepared for this event and will have crews working 12-hour shifts with spreader and plow operations conducted as needed. There is no forecast for rain prior to snow, and extensive pre-treatment of city roadways has been completed.

As always, priority will be placed on primary and secondary roads with plowing of residential streets conducted only if two inches or more of snow accumulation occurs. Based on the forecast of more than two inches of snow, it is anticipated that residential streets will be plowed.

There is the expectation that snow will freeze to the pavement in some locations and will remain on streets even after plowing and salt applications. The public is encouraged to avoid travel if at all possible and use extreme caution if travel does become necessary. Slow down, take extra time and watch out for spreader trucks.

Street Parking

Many Lynchburg streets are very narrow. Vehicles parked on both sides of an already narrow street leave very little room for plows and slows down clearing of streets should plowing become necessary.

• Limit parking in the street. If you have a driveway – please use it!
• If off-street parking is not available, please ask neighbors to coordinate and voluntarily park on one side of the street.

Free Parking in City Parking Decks for Downtown Residents

Free parking will be allowed in the City parking decks as outlined below beginning Saturday, January 15 and continuing until Tuesday, January 18 at 7:00 a.m. to facilitate more effective clearing of downtown streets. During this time, regular parking enforcement operations will be suspended.

• Midtown Parking Deck – Levels B – E, accessible from the 900-block of Main Street, Ninth Street and the 900-block of Commerce Street
• Clay Street Parking Deck – Second level ONLY, accessible from Clay Street and behind the Lynchburg Museum
• City Center Parking Deck – Second Level, accessible from 10th Street and 1001 Commerce Street

For more information about parking, please contact Parking Management at (434) 455-4045 or send an email to parking.authority@lynchburgva.gov.

Statement released on Jan. 14, 2022 by the City of Lynchburg

Martinsville:

Pulaski:

With the anticipation of this weekend’s snowfall, please see the memo below from the Superintendent of our Public Works Department about snow removal. If you have further questions, please call 540-994-8651.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our thanks to all the town residents that have been patient and complimentary (this and past winter) of the snow removal efforts of the Town of Pulaski Department of Public Works.

In an effort to obtain optimum results during the snow removal process, I would like to discuss the town’s policy, procedure and guidelines.

Snow removal crews/drivers each are assigned a specific territory. When we receive normal snowfall with moderate accumulation and free of any hazardous mixes of sleet or freezing rain, crews are dispatched simultaneously to their assigned territory. In the event of severe weather of accumulation and precipitation mixes, snow removal routes are prioritized accordingly:

PRIORITY ONE

Primary roads: (Rt. 11, Rt. 99, E. Main Street, Bob White Blvd., Memorial Drive, Dora Hwy, S. Washington Ave.)

PRIORITY TWO

Secondary roads: (Randolph Ave., Jefferson Ave., N. Washington Ave, Peppers Ferry Rd., Franklin Ave. Newbern Rd., Northwood Drive, Prospect Ave., Henry Ave., Mt. Olivet Rd., Case Knife Rd., Pleasant Hill Dr., Pierce Ave.)

PRIORITY THREE

Residential and side streets: Subdivisions (Twin Oaks, Peppers Ferry Meadow,1st – 16th St. NW, 1st – 8th St. NE, 1st – 6th St. SE, SW and all other side streets

PRIORITY FOUR

All Dead End and single lane streets. The town does not treat graveled areas, private driveways, and most alleys. * AN ALLEY IS TREATED IF IT IS THE ONLY ACCESS TO A RESIDENCE. If a residence has street access, rear alleys are not treated*

SIDEWALKS

–The only sidewalks treated during snow removal are those fronting town owned buildings/property, and along side the bridges. We do not treat sidewalks in the residential neighborhoods.

–Businesses/business owners are responsible for the sidewalk in front of their respective businesses.

SNOW REMOVAL: POLICY AND PROCEDURES

We certainly understand and respect the need of each citizen to travel during inclement weather. We want to ensure that the streets are as clear and safe as possible for travel. I would like to refer to some guidelines that will help both citizens and snow removal crews experience as smooth a period of inclement weather as possible.

 Utilize off street parking (where applicable). Our snowplows are 10-12 ft. wide and cannot always enter/exit streets with cars parked on either or both sides of the street. Our drivers are instructed that if they approach a street and find on street parking that would restrict their width and ability to maneuver the snowplow, not to enter that street.

 Snowplows are angled to the right. When engaged in snow removal, a significant amount of accumulation will result in rows of snow being pushed to the right. This often times results in blocking in cars or driveways. We apologize for the inconvenience, but the streets are our priority. When this does happen, we do not return to break this down or to clear driveways.

 With the above guideline in mind, we advise citizens that it is best not to clear their driveways back into the street. Until the street is cleared completely or on a final route, this will only result in the snow being pushed back into the driveways.

 Although unfortunate but true, we have many false (medical) emergencies reported during snowstorms in anticipation of a particular street receiving immediate attention. If you have an emergency, call 911. If your area has not been treated yet, emergency personnel will notify us and we will clear the area and lead emergency response units safely in. True emergencies of any nature should be reported to the appropriate personnel.

 When pushing a dead end or narrow street that does not have a turn around area for our trucks, the driver has 2 choices. The driver can either pull in and back out, or back in and pull out. If there is no turn around available, the snow is pushed to the end (or the longest safe stretch) of the street. There is no other alternative.

 Drivers are instructed to use their own judgement when entering into any street with a snow plow unit. If there are evident hazards or safety factors, the driver will not enter that street. He will report this street to us as inaccessible and indicate reasoning. Should a citizen see a truck approach and not enter, if the factors are not evident, he/she may call into the office and be advised of the reason(s) a particular area was not attempted.

 Please do not approach the drivers and request additional snow removal or removal on private property. Drivers are assigned specific territories and streets within. Please contact the office for review/consideration of additional right-of-way requests.

We thank you for your patience and ask that you continue to be patient for we receive a phenomenal number of calls, many of which requesting additional/individual services beyond those provided. Each call or request is forwarded to the appropriate department and reviewed, however, in an effort to maintain route schedule, these areas may not be revisited until the initial route has been treated.

I hope this information has provided clarification of any concerns you may have regarding the policy/procedure of snow removal in the town of Pulaski.

Statement posted on Jan. 14, 2022 on the Town of Pulaski Facebook page

Radford:

Snow Removal Preparation and Procedures
How does Radford decide what roads to clear first?
Once the storm hits, snow removal crews work around the clock to clear city roads and make them passable for safe travel. In any winter storm, crews’ first priority is to clear the roads that have the most traffic, or primary roads. An example of a primary road in Radford is East and West Main Street. Major secondary roads with vital emergency and public facilities or those with high traffic volumes, are also plowed during this time. During this phase of snow removal crews are working to clear a path wide enough for traffic to move through. Snow emergency routes are also among the top priorities. Once the snow has stopped and main roads are clear, residential streets and neighborhoods will be plowed. After every street has had a path created, crews will go back through to all streets to widen the road.

Why do plows block my driveway with snow when they clear the road?
To make as many roads passable as quickly as possible, there is no way to avoid this practice. We are sorry for this inconvenience. Plow operators push snow off the roadway in smooth, continuous passes and the angle on the plow allows for wider streets, but the snow must be moved to the sides of the road. The snow ends up in gutters and on road shoulders, sometimes blocking driveways. To avoid double work, shovel snow from your driveway after the snow plow has been by and shovel the snow the right of your driveway, as you face the road.

Why doesn’t Radford put salt on the roads before it snows?
Putting salt on roads before it snows wastes time and money since the salt can blow off the pavement. Salt is most effective after the snow has accumulated about an inch and the temperature is 27 degrees or higher. This allows the snow and salt to mix together, melting the snow into a slush that can be plowed off the pavement.

Who is responsible for clearing my sidewalk?
You or your property owner is responsible for clearing the sidewalk surrounding your property.
Radford City Code
Sec. 90-5. – Removal of snow, sleet, and ice from sidewalks.
It shall be the duty of the owner of any property, improved or unimproved, that adjoins any sidewalk within the city to remove all snow, sleet, and ice from such sidewalk within twenty-four (24) hours after the snow, sleet, or ice has ceased falling. In the event the property is leased or otherwise occupied, then the tenant or occupant of the property shall be required to comply with the requirements of this section.
If the snow, sleet, or ice is not removed as required above, then the city manager or his designee may notify the owner, tenant, or occupant of the property that that the city will remove the snow, sleet, or ice at the owner’s, tenant’s, or occupant’s expense if the sidewalk is not cleared within twenty-four (24) hours after being given notice of a violation of this section. Notice of a violation of this section may be given to the owner, tenant, or occupant of the property by:
first-class mail
hand-delivery
by posting a copy of the notice on the property
If the snow, sleet, or ice is not removed from the sidewalk within twenty-four (24) hours after notice is given to the owner, tenant, or occupant, then the city may clear the sidewalk and charge and collect the costs from the owner, tenant, or occupant of the property. The city may use city staff or hire independent contractors to clear the sidewalk. Costs for removal of snow, sleet, and ice, including an administrative fee as set by general resolution of City Council, may be charged to the owner, tenant, or occupant and collected in any manner provided by law for the collection of local taxes and shall constitute a lien against any property where the violation is found to exist. Decisions to clear snow, sleet, or ice from sidewalks as provided by this section shall be based on established pedestrian travel priorities developed by the city manager’s office.
A violation of this section shall constitute a class 4 misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in Section 1-7 of the City Code. Each day a violation of this section continues to exist shall be considered a separate offense. This general penalty shall be available in addition to the City’

Statement posted on Jan. 14, 2022 on the Radford City Government Facebook page

Roanoke City:

Wytheville:

With snow predictions as high as sixteen inches starting Saturday night into Monday, everyone should be stocking up on supplies now.

Once the roads are impassable is not the time to go out for supplies or medications. Make sure your smartphone is fully charged and you have a battery backup charging device.

Our 911 Wythe County Central Dispatch will be overwhelmed with emergency calls.

Do not call 911 or our nonemergency numbers for road conditions and power outages.

When will the power be back on? We have no idea.

Go to https://www.appalachianpower.com/ for more information. You can report power outages and get text alerts from AEP when your power may be back on. You do not have to be a customer to see outage status at https://www.appalachianpower.com/outages/status from your smartphone. If you do not have the app, it will also show a link, get the app.

What are the roads like? They are bad.

In the Town of Wytheville our snow crews will work 24 hours to make the streets passable. Their first and primary goal is to keep the Snow Emergency Routes passable. This is the arterial streets in town that lead to the hospital, major highways, and the interstate.

Visit https://www.511virginia.org/ for interstate and highway conditions. Download Virginia 511 app.

Once the Snow Emergency Routes are passable then their attention will focus on the secondary streets and neighborhoods.
If you don’t have four-wheel drive don’t even attempt to drive on unplowed streets. If you get stuck, you will be stuck for hours. All the wrecker services will most likely be tied up on the interstate for the substantial number of accidents that occur when it snows.

If you get stuck or abandon your vehicle in the street or in the path of our snow removal crews, your vehicle will be towed by the first available wrecker service.

If you abandon your vehicle in this manner and you come back to find your vehicle is missing do not call 911 or our nonemergency number to find out which wrecker service towed your vehicle; they have no idea. Best thing you can do is Google “Local wrecker service” and start calling the listed phone numbers. Be prepared to pay the wrecker service for towing your vehicle, they will not release your vehicle until the bill is paid in full.

Please be safe during this snow event and stay home if you can.

Statement posted on Jan. 14, 2022 on Wytheville Police Department Facebook page

This is a developing story.

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