RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency Thursday ahead of a Nor’easter winter storm expected to arrive on Friday, affecting several parts of the Commonwealth, including western Virginia.
Officials say the current forecasts indicate this will be a statewide event, but the areas along the coastline will experience the largest impacts, including the threat of tidal flooding.
Heavy wet snow along with high winds are reportedly expected, thus posing a risk for downed trees, electrical outages, and major impacts to travel.
By declaring this state of emergency, Youngkin has enabled the Commonwealth to mobilize resources and to deploy people and equipment to assist in response and recovery effort, according to officials. However, this action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.
As of Thursday, Jan. 27, the governor’s office says the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and other pertinent agencies are already mobilizing and preparing for the impact of the storm.
In fact, VDOT’s Salem District is already warning about slick roads in western Virginia due to the combination of snow and cold temperatures after this winter weather event starts on Friday, Jan. 28.
A winter storm is expected to cover roads in western Virginia with snow starting on Friday, January 28. Although snow accumulations are anticipated to be low, below freezing temperatures and cold pavement mean that many roads, particularly low-volume secondary routes (those numbered 600 and above), are anticipated to become snow covered quickly and remain icy until temperatures rise.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) suggests that drivers plan travel around the forecasted weather event, as slick roads and rapidly changing conditions are possible, especially during the afternoon commute on Friday and into the morning hours on Saturday.
On Thursday, VDOT crews and contractors will be pre-treating major roads and interstates ahead of the storm. Drivers should use caution around slower moving trucks that will be applying brine.
VDOT’s first priority in any winter weather event are the interstates and primary roads (those numbered 1-599) and high-volume secondary routes. Equipment operators will be making multiple passes over these major routes and will not work on low-volume secondary roads or neighborhood streets until the precipitation stops and progress is made on the main roads.Statement released on Jan. 27, 2022 by the Virginia Department of Transportation’s Salem District
VDOT’s brine trucks have already hit the road in the Salem and Staunton districts Thursday afternoon to take care of the primary roads and interstates before the storm’s arrival, which is expected to be around rush hour on Friday in southwest Virginia.
In VDOT’s Lynchburg District, officials say crews are ready and waiting for a light snowfall — up to two inches in some spots — between Friday and mid-morning or mid-afternoon on Saturday, Jan. 29. Motorists are encouraged to give crews room to work and to plan your travel around the winter weather.
“The key message for all Virginians is to stay aware of the weather conditions and to stay off the roads if possible,” said Youngkin. “We have already started planning and mobilizing resources needed to protect the Commonwealth. We are very concerned with the forecasted impacts to our Eastern Shore region and have started pre-positioning resources to ensure a timely response to that area. The most important thing everyone can do to minimize the risks is to prepare yourself and your family.”
Youngkin urges all Virginians to be weather aware and prepare for the winter weather by taking the following actions:
- Stay off the roads as much as possible, only drive when absolutely necessary, and always give snow plows and responders the right of way during a winter storm.
- Never use a generator; grill; camp stove; or gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal burning device inside your home, garage, basement, crawlspace, or any other partially enclosed area.
- Snow shoveling is a known trigger for heart attacks, which is why you should avoid overexertion when shoveling.
- Plan to check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives when severe weather occurs.
- If you must travel, know the road conditions before you leave home. You can find real-time traffic updates from anywhere in the Commonwealth by dialing 5-1-1 or visiting 511Virginia.org.
- Protect yourself from frostbite. Since the hands, feet, and face are the most commonly affected areas, you should wear a hat and mittens (which are warmer than gloves), as well as cover your mouth with a scarf to reduce heat loss.
- Keep dry, making sure to change out of wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat.
- Wear several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, and warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing.
- Prepare your home:
- Make sure your home is properly insulated.
- Check the weather stripping around your windows and doors.
- Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.
- Have additional heat sources on hand in case of a power outage.
- Keep a fire extinguisher accessible.
- Replace the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector annually.
- Prepare your vehicle:
- Batteries lose power as temperatures drop, so make sure to have yours tested.
- Check your vehicle’s antifreeze level.
- Have your radiator system serviced.
- Replace your vehicle’s windshield wiper fluid with a wintertime mix.
- Proactively replace your worn tires and wiper blades.
- To help with visibility, clean off your vehicle entirely, including your trunk, roof, windows, and headlights
- Avoid travel, but if you absolutely have to be on the roadway, prepare your vehicle and have a kit for you and your passengers. This could include items such as:
- Drinking water and snacks for everyone in the vehicle, including pets
- A basic first-aid kit
- A warm coat and insulating layers, such as sweatpants, gloves, socks, and a hat
- Rags, paper towels, or pre-moistened wipes
- A basic set of tools
- Vehicle emergency warning devices, such as road flares or reflectors
- An ice scraper/snow brush
- Jumper cables/jump pack
- A fire extinguisher
- Items for children, such as diapers, baby wipes, toys, etc.
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- Hand warmers
- A paper map
- A portable smartphone power bank
- Extra medication
- Garbage bags
- Traction aid, such as sand, salt, or non-clumping cat litter
- A tarp, raincoat, and gloves
- A shovel
To learn more about how to prepare yourself, your family, and your business for winter weather, follow this link.