Lou Hatter 540-829-7537
Dec. 25, 2009
MOTORISTS WARNED OF FREEZING RAIN THIS MORNING
Forecast heavy rain makes flooding a concern; VDOT crews on duty across the region
CULPEPER — Motorists who are planning to travel through Central and Piedmont Virginia this morning should expect to encounter icy conditions as freezing rain spreads across the region in the hours after dawn. Near Charlottesville the precipitation is forecast to begin about 7 a.m., while farther north through Culpeper and Fauquier counties it will likely start somewhat later.
People with travel plans should consider delaying their travel until temperatures warm enough late in the morning to change the precipitation to rain. If travel is essential motorists should use extreme caution as freezing conditions are likely.
Crews from the Virginia Department of Transportation are on duty and prepared to respond as the freezing rain begins to fall. Crews will use a mixture of sand and salt spread on the roads. The sand increases traction and the salt helps melt the frozen precipitation and prevents it from bonding to the road surface.
Later today motorists should also be careful on secondary roads where there are still significant accumulations of packed snow and ice. As temperatures warm and the rain begins to melt that packed snow it will turn to slush, which can make a vehicle difficult to control. In such situations motorists should allow the vehicle to slow down and make gentle steering corrections. Do not brake heavily or make sudden turns while driving in heavy slush since it may cause a skid.
Another concern during this event is the possibility of flooding. Since as much one inch of rain is forecast to fall on the dense snow pack and saturated ground, there is concern for flooding in low-lying areas and roads where storm drains or roadside ditches are blocked with packed snow. Anyone driving later today should be alert to possible flooding, especially in areas that are prone to high water. Never drive across a road with water running over it since you do not know how deep it is. Small vehicles can be swept off the road by less than two feet of running water.
Real-time road conditions and weather forecasts are available on VDOT’s traffic and travel Web site, www.511Virginia.org. The site also has live traffic camera images for many major highways, including I-64, I-66 and Routes 29 and 250 in Central Virginia. Motorists can call 511 from any telephone in Virginia for road and traffic conditions on all major highways in the state.
Information in VDOT news releases was accurate at the time the release was published. For the most current information about projects or programs, please visit the project or program Web pages. You may find those by searching by keyword in the search Virginia DOT box above.