Southwest Virginia prepares for possibility of snow-covered roads through Thursday morning

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(Photo: Courtesy William Brawley/CC BY 2.0 via MGN Online)

(Photo: Courtesy William Brawley/CC BY 2.0 via MGN Online)

(WFXR) — Since winter weather is expected to impact parts of southwest Virginia over the next 24 hours, drivers are encouraged to plan ahead for potentially slick and snowy roads overnight and into the Thursday morning commute.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Salem District, the concerns about snow-covered roads especially apply to the nighttime hours on Wednesday, Jan. 27 and the morning hours on Thursday, Jan. 28.

VDOT says rain is expected to transition to heavy snow, which may accumulate on roads in the New River Valley and higher elevations, in particular. 

Even though crews and contractors will not apply brine to roads ahead of this winter storm because the rain would wash off any pretreatment and leave it ineffective, VDOT says snow plow operators will monitor conditions Wednesday night and start treating and plowing roads as soon as the winter precipitation starts.

When the snowy weather does begin, drivers are asked to pay extra attention to bridges and overpasses, which are likely to become slick first. 

As long as the snowfall continues, snowplow operators will pass over the interstate and primary roads (those numbered 1-599) multiple times, but will not work on neighborhood streets or low-volume secondary routes (those numbered 600 and above), according to VDOT.

While Danville is technically outside VDOT’s Salem District, city officials say they are already preparing for an overnight winter storm. You can read the full statement released by the City of Danville on Wednesday below:

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg earlier today issued a winter weather advisory for Danville and the surrounding area that will take effect tonight at 9 p.m. and will continue until 8 a.m. Thursday.

Meteorologist Phil Hysell said a winter storm system tracking across the Southeast will begin as rain and then change over to snow. For Danville, the rain will begin around 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Late in the evening, the rain will mix with snow and then change over to snow before midnight.

Hysell said an accumulation of wet snow is expected, but the computer models vary on the amounts. The most likely scenario for Danville is a total accumulation of a half-inch to one inch of snow. However, a shift in the track of the storm could bring three to four inches of snow.

Another concern is the high winds that will accompany the storm system. The combination of snow, high winds and low temperatures could lead to slippery streets during the Thursday morning commute to work.

The overnight low will be 31 degrees, with a high of 40 degrees on Thursday.

Public Works crews are monitoring the situation. Plows and salt and sand trucks are ready to go as needed. Crews will report to duty overnight.

Crews will not, however, pretreat major thoroughfares and bridges with brine today because the rain would wash away the brine from the street and bridge surfaces. Brine 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.

Danville Utilities is monitoring the situation. Crews are prepared to respond as needed.

Arnold Hendrix, Public Information Officer for the City of Danville

For real-time information on road conditions and traffic incidents to help you plan your route during this winter storm, you can check out VDOT’s 511 mobile app or online traffic map.

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