VDOT crews prepare for first possible winter storm of the year, warning drivers to stay home

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RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) — With the rain and snow mix on the way Monday morning, the Virginia Department of Transportation worked Sunday preparing and loading equipment to be ready to plow and treat roads Monday.

The storm would be the first winter storm of the year for the Richmond metropolitan area, despite the warmer temperatures the area has seen recently.

“It’s a bit of a shock because the other day, people might have been able to wear shorts. It was pretty hot. But, the weather is changing now,” VDOT spokesperson Kyle Gibson told 8News in an interview Sunday.

VDOT crews worked Sunday preparing snow plows and other equipment for the 24-operation crews will begin once precipitation starts Monday. Crews will continue working until all roads are safe and passable.

Crews will plow where snow accumulations reach two inches or more and watching for refreeze overnight Monday. Icy patches will be treated with salt to help melt ice and sand to enhance traction for drivers.

“They’ll be reporting early Monday morning in anticipation of the start of the precipitation,” Gibson said.

The eastern half of the Richmond metropolitan area could see at least an inch to three inches of snow Monday.

Gibson said be alert for ice, especially if roads refreeze Monday night.

“70% of deaths that occur during ice and snow events happen on the roads due to automobile accidents,” he said.

He said the safest place to be during a winter storm is indoors.

Gibson said VDOT was not able to pretreat the roads because the storm will start with rain.

“If it starts as rain and then turns into snow, we’re not able to pretreat because a bond can’t be formed between that brine and the pretreatment of the roadway,” he explained.

Gibson asks the public to be sure to give VDOT plows on the road at least 100 feet of room. He also said be sure not to pass the vehicles.

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VDOT tips for drivers

  • The safest place during a winter storm is indoors.
  • Delay Monday travel if possible. Slushy roads can still be dangerous for drivers.
  • If drivers stay off the roads during a storm, transportation workers and public safety officials are better able to plow roadways and respond to emergency needs quicker.
  • If you must drive, give snow plows plenty of room (at least 100 feet) and don’t pass them.
  • Give all vehicles extra following distance during snow.
  • Melted snow presents another dangerous challenge: Ice. Refreeze is possible Monday night. Drivers should assume ice is present on the road if temperatures are below freezing and precipitation is present on the roadway.
  • Be extra careful in areas which tend to freeze first, including bridges, shaded areas, overpasses, curves and turns. 

Before traveling, you can get the latest traffic conditions by using 511 Virginia. Call 511 from any phone in Virginia, visit www.511virginia.org or download the free mobile app at http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp#app.

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