CULPEPER - The Virginia Department of Transportation is urging motorists to delay travel during the winter storm forecast for Piedmont Virginia beginning late Tuesday.
Up to 16 inches of snow is predicted, with the largest accumulations in high-elevation areas along the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roads are likely to be slick, making travel hazardous. Forecasters are also calling for winds of up to 40 miles per hour on Wednesday, which will reduce visibility and may lead to downed trees and power lines.
Motorists are advised to stay off the roads when possible, especially during the height of the storm. Stay updated on weather and road conditions by tuning in to local media and to VDOT's 511 system.
VDOT began its preparations Monday, including pre-treating interstates and high-volume primary highways with anti-icing chemicals. Equipment and supplies have been readied and crews will report for duty at 8 p.m. tonight.
VDOT crews will treat the roads with a mixture of sand and salt when precipitation begins. The sand increases traction and the salt helps melt snow and ice and prevent it from bonding to the road surface.
As snow accumulates, crews will begin plowing roads, focusing on interstates and primary roads first and then turning their attention to secondary roads (those numbered 600 and above).
VDOT will monitor the weather throughout the storm and adjust its response accordingly.
VDOT offers the following tips for driving in winter weather:
· Postpone unnecessary travel until conditions improve. If you must drive, know the current road conditions and weather forecasts.
· Make sure your windows, mirrors and lights are clear of ice and snow.
· Always wear your seat belt.
· Allow extra time to travel to your destination.
· Be aware of potentially icy areas such as bridges, overpasses and shady spots. Also, if there is heavy snow, ice or high winds, be alert to potential driving hazards including downed branches, trees and electric lines.
· Reduce speed as appropriate and keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and snowplows.
· Do not pass a snowplow unless it is absolutely necessary. Remember, the plow is clearing a path for you.
· Keep an emergency winter driving kit in your car. The kit should include a small bag of rock salt, sand or cat litter to provide traction in case you get stuck, a snowbrush and ice scraper, a flashlight, battery booster cables, a blanket and extra clothing.
· Practice common sense. Remember that your car cannot start, stop, or turn as quickly and surely on snow or ice as it does on dry pavement, so think and drive accordingly.
Motorists should check VDOT's 511 travel website, www.511virginia.org, before leaving on a trip. The website is updated in real time with 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.
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