Tamara Rollison 804-786-2715
Shannon Marshall 804-371-6844
Jan. 17, 2013
VDOT PREPARED FOR WINTER WEATHER – SNOW FALL BEGINS
Snow is expected in most of the commonwealth
RICHMOND — Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews are fully mobilized in preparation for the winter storm expected to hit most of the state later today.
Snow removal efforts are already under way in the western region of Virginia where snow has begun to fall early this afternoon. Roads are becoming snow covered and motorists are urged to drive with extreme caution.
According to weather forecasts, as the storm moves eastward across the state, rain showers are predicted to change into snow through the afternoon hours into the evening, with higher snow totals expected in the western part of the state.
“We are ready for whatever Mother Nature decides to bring our way,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. “VDOT encourages motorists to check road conditions prior to travel and, if possible, avoid unnecessary travel until conditions improve.”
VDOT crews have readied their snowplows, checked salt and sand supplies and are fully mobilized in anticipation of the winter weather.
VDOT has 2,424 pieces of state equipment, approximately 7,144 pieces of hired equipment and 818 pieces of interstate contractor equipment available for snow- and ice-control activities.
VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends.
Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multi-day storms hit the commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.
VDOT’s Winter Weather Tools
VDOT continues to use the latest anti-icing techniques. Anti-icing involves applying chemicals to roadways before a storm to prepare the pavement and prevent a bond from forming between the surface and the snow and ice. VDOT will use anti-icing chemicals, including salt brine, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride, on roads around the state this winter.
- Check road conditions before leaving home by calling 511 or logging in to www.511Virginia.org and avoid unnecessary travel
- Slow down and allow for extra time to reach your destination
- Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges
- Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and trucks that are plowing the road
- Do not pass a snowplow or spreader unless it is absolutely necessary
Motorists should check VDOT’s 511 website, www.511virginia.org, prior to travel. The website features real-time weather and road conditions for all highways in Virginia. Once on the road, VDOT’s 511 mobile app provides real-time traffic and weather information for both iPhone and Android platforms. Travelers can also call 511 from any telephone in Virginia for real-time information on traffic and road conditions.
For overall winter weather information, VDOT’s website includes frequently asked questions, driving tips and tools for motorists to learn more about VDOT’s winter preparedness at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp.
TIPS AND RESOURCES
- Avoid unnecessary travel. If it is not a life safety issue, stay off the roads.
- The safest place during a winter storm is indoors. About 70 percent of deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.
- Stay at the office an extra hour, or leave early, to avoid travel during a winter storm.
- If residents stay off the roads during a storm, transportation workers and public safety officials are better able to clear roadways and respond to emergency needs quicker.
- Be prepared for the worst. Be ready to spend an extra hour at the office, or leave an hour or two early, to avoid a more time consuming commute home during the height of a storm.
- Have an emergency supply kit in your office and car.
- If local officials advise residents to stay off the roads – then stay off the roads.
- Public safety and emergency management officials, along with National Weather Service meteorologists, base travel advisories and guidance on weather forecasts. Heed their advice!
- Businesses that follow closing/delay policies from local jurisdictions or the federal Office of Personnel Management need to monitor those sources and release employees when advised.
- Listen to local radio/TV weather forecasts; monitor social media.
- Sign up for text alerts from your local government.
- Sign up for weather alerts from NOAA/National Weather Service, including RSS feeds of your forecast and weather watches/warnings.
- Purchase a NOAA weather radio for your home and office. NOAA Weather Radio is the prime alerting and critical information delivery system of the National Weather Service (NWS). NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts warnings, watches, forecasts, and other hazard information 24 hours a day.
If a blizzard traps you in the car, keep these guidelines in mind:
- Pull off the highway. Turn on hazard lights and hang a distress flag from the radio antenna or window.
- Make yourself visible to rescuers:
- Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door.
- Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling.
- Turn on the dome light at night when running engine.
- Remain in your vehicle where rescuers are most likely to find you. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you know you can take shelter. Be careful; distances are distorted by blowing snow. A building may seem close, but be too far to walk to in deep snow.
- Run the engine and heater about 10 minutes each hour to keep warm. When the engine is running, open an upwind window slightly for ventilation. This will protect you from possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Periodically clear snow from the exhaust pipe.
- Exercise to maintain body heat, but avoid overexertion. Vigorously move your arms, legs, fingers and toes to keep blood circulating and to keep warm.
- In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, and floor mats for insulation. Huddle with passengers and use your coat for a blanket.
- Take turns sleeping. One person should be awake at all times to look for rescue crews.
- Drink fluids to avoid dehydration.
- Be careful not to waste battery power. Balance electrical energy needs - the use of lights, heat, and radio - with supply.
- Turn on the inside light at night so work crews or rescuers can see you.
- If stranded in a remote area, stomp large block letters in an open area spelling out HELP or SOS and line with rocks or tree limbs to attract the attention of rescue personnel who may be surveying the area by airplane.
- Leave the car and proceed on foot - if necessary - once the blizzard passes.
800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623): Report Virginia road hazards or ask road-related questions, 24/7.
Twitter: Visit VDOT’s social media web page (http://www.virginiadot.org/newsroom/social_media.asp) to subscribe to one of five regional traffic Twitter feeds.
Follow www.twitter.com/VaDOT for news and information on VDOT projects and programs around the state.
Facebook: Like www.facebook.com/virginiadot to learn about VDOT news and programs.
YouTube: Visit VDOT’s YouTube channel www.youtube.com/vdotweb for videos on snow removal and many other topics.
www.virginiadot.org: A wealth of information on VDOT’s news, projects, programs and other topics.
www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp: Winter travel tips and photos, video and audio clips of snow.
www.virginiadot.org/about/emer_response.asp: How VDOT prepares for emergencies and what citizens can do to prepare.
www.511virginia.org: Provides real-time updates on traffic incidents and road conditions.
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.