(WFXR) — With another significant round of winter weather forecasted across Virginia from Thursday night into Friday morning, Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) encourage motorists to be weather aware, to plan ahead, and to avoid traveling during inclement conditions.
During the significant winter weather event earlier this week, officials say state troopers responded to 1,220 traffic crashes and 1,414 disabled/stuck vehicles around Virginia from 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 3 through midnight on Tuesday, Jan. 4.
However, there were no weather-related traffic deaths reported in the Commonwealth during that time period, not even from the 40-mile backup on I-95 near Fredericksburg that left hundreds of motorists stranded for hours.
“Back-to-back storms are nothing new for the state police or Virginia,” said Maj. R.C. Maxey Jr., Virginia State Police Bureau of Field Operations Deputy Director, during a press conference on Thursday, Jan. 6. “State Police is prepared for this latest round of winter weather. We will have all available troopers on patrol in order to respond as quickly as possible to traffic crashes, emergencies, and disabled motorists. We will extend shifts, call out additional troopers, and redirect resources when and where needed, just as we did earlier this week.”
Since snow began falling in southwest Virginia on Thursday afternoon, state troopers have been responding to crashes and disabled vehicles, mainly in the counties of Buchanan, Lee, Wise and Dickenson, according to authorities. The majority of the crashes only damaged vehicles.
Between 1 p.m. and 5:15 p.m., Virginia State Police say personnel have responded to a total of 14 crashes and 11 disabled vehicles in those four counties, including eight crashes and six disabled vehicles that state troopers are currently handling.
Meanwhile, VDOT says crews are working around-the-clock to address incoming winter weather while continuing to clear remnants of Monday’s storm.
Teams across the Commonwealth are pre-treating interstates, primary roads, and major secondary roads ahead of potential snow, as well as standing ready with necessary equipment and adequate material and supply levels, officials say.
“Accumulating snow is forecasted to impact the Commonwealth tonight, with the western and central part of the state expected to get the brunt of this storm, similar to the locations heavily impacted earlier this week,” VDOT said in a statement on Thursday. “Sub-freezing temperatures are expected over the weekend, potentially causing refreeze that will create icy conditions.”
According to the department, teams in central Virginia made progress overnight, reaching more residential areas on low-volume and subdivisions streets while crews worked to start clearing neighborhoods ahead of the inclement weather expected Thursday.
VDOT reminds Virginians that interstates, primary roads, and major secondary roads with vital emergency and public facilities, or those with high traffic volumes, will be cleared first. Secondary and subdivision streets will be treated in the event of a multi-day storm.
Motorists in areas affected by Thursday’s winter weather are urged to limit nonessential travel.
However, if you must travel during the storm, both VDOT and Virginia State Police ask you to exercise extreme caution and follow these safety tips:
- Avoid traveling until the precipitation stops and road conditions improve. If that isn’t feasible, postpone your trip as long as possible to give crews time to treat the roads.
- Allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination.
- Know before you go. Check Virginia road conditions at www.511virginia.org or download the VDOT 511 app.
- Do not call 911 or #77 for road conditions. These lines need to be kept open for emergencies only.
- Clear all snow and ice from the roof, trunk, hood, and windows of your vehicle — whether that’s a car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, or commercial vehicle — before you travel.
- Keep an emergency winter weather kit in your vehicle with food, water, first aid materials, tools, and blankets in case of a breakdown or backup.
- Virginia law requires headlights on when your wipers are active, so use your headlights in rain and snow.
- Do not pass snow plows
- Drive for conditions, so slow your speed and increase your traveling distance between the vehicle ahead of you.
- Always buckle up and avoid distractions, including your phone.
You can find additional tips for winter weather driving and preparedness through VDOT, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and Ready.gov.