(WFXR) – With forecasted winter storms lining up with the scheduled return of students to college campuses around the Commonwealth this weekend, transportation officials and police are reminding students and their families to plan any move-in travel around the winter weather.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Salem District, crews and contractors will spend Friday, Jan. 14 pre-treating major roads and interstates ahead of the storm. Drivers are asked to use caution around slower-moving trucks that will be applying brine

Then, on Sunday, Jan. 16, a major winter storm is expected to bring significant snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain to western Virginia, officials say.

Once the snow begins, VDOT Salem says its first priority are the interstates and primary roads (those numbered 1-599).  

Meanwhile, secondary roads and neighborhood streets (those numbered 600 and above) are expected to become covered in deep snow and ice after Sunday’s weather. However, lower-volume secondary routes will not be plowed or treated until the snow stops and progress can be made on the interstates and primary roads. 

With so much snow expected over the weekend, all motorists — including college students and their families — are urged to either return early before the storm, or delay travel until after the storm when the roadways are safe.

In fact, the following colleges and universities in southwest and central Virginia have already made announcements about their move-in plans for the spring semester or other on-campus changes due to inclement weather concerns:

  • Ferrum College: Move-in has been delayed until Tuesday, Jan. 18 and the first day of classes has been delayed until Wednesday, Jan. 19.
  • Liberty University: All vehicles on campus are asked to park in the Academic Commons or the Runk or Pratt parking garages by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 15.
  • Radford University: Students who were scheduled to check into main campus housing on Sunday, Jan. 16 need to changed their appointments to Friday, Jan. 14 or Saturday, Jan. 15.
  • Roanoke College: Anyone scheduled to move in on Sunday, Jan. 16 may move in on Saturday, Jan. 15; Saturday, Jan. 22; or Sunday, Jan. 23. If they still choose to move in this Sunday, the residence hall check-in will be in the Residence Life office rather than the lower Olin parking lot because of the expected snow.
  • Virginia Tech: Move-in is highly discouraged for Sunday, Jan. 16, but staff will work to keep sidewalks and entryways clear. There are also some critical changes for testing requirements, parking, and hours of operations.

However, if you cannot avoid traveling on Sunday, here are some key reminders from Virginia State Police and VDOT:

  • Keep in mind that plowed roads will cover again as snow continues to fall, so any roads with snow or ice on them are considered hazardous for travel.
  • Review weather forecasts for your entire travel route.
  • Be sure your vehicle has a fuel tank of gas and is in good working condition.
  • Clear all snow and ice from the roof, trunk, hood, and windows of your vehicle before you travel, whether that’s a car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, or commercial vehicle.
  • Keep an emergency winter weather kit in your vehicle with food, water, first aid materials or any necessary medications, tools, cell phone chargers, and blankets in the event of a breakdown or stoppage.
  • Know before you go: Check Virginia road conditions at www.511virginia.org or download the VDOT 511 app before you head out.
  • Allow plenty of time to reach your destination.
  • Always buckle up and avoid distractions, such as phones.
  • Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds between you and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • Brake very lightly to keep your tires from slipping on pavement.
  • Do not pass snowplows.
  • Use your headlights in rain and snow. Virginia law requires you to turn on your headlights when your wipers are active
  • Do not call 911 or #77 for road conditions. These lines need to be kept open for emergencies only. 

For more information on winter weather travel in Virginia, click here.

Virginia State Police also issued a warning to anyone who may be traveling out of or returning to Virginia over the weekend, saying this winter storm system is expected to impact much of the East Coast, especially along the I-95 corridor.

Meanwhile, all available state troopers will reportedly be on patrol in order to respond as quickly as possible to crashes, emergencies, and disabled motorists.