CHESTERFIELD, Va (WRIC) — Snow preparation materials are flying off shelves Saturday with the snow, freezing rain and ice forecasted for the Richmond metropolitan area on Sunday.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking the public to prepare now and avoid dangerous roadways.

Pleasants Hardware manager Steven Utz said sales usually skyrocket for the store before storms like the one the area is expecting on Sunday. Some people at the store said they’re already prepared because of the last storm the area saw two weeks ago.

Utz said the store sold out of a pallet of 20 pound bags of ice melt Friday night. He said the heavy-duty snow shovels were off the shelves as soon as the winter storm first appeared on the forecast.

“A lot of people are getting salt and they’re putting it down on their driveways and everything because they have a lot of elderly family members that they don’t want to slip and fall,” Utz said.

Utz has seen a wave of customers from rural areas like Louisa that were hit hard by the last storm, buying heaters and generators in case the power goes out.

“We have a lot of people that call us from Goochland County, Powhatan County, we have a lot of residents out in the country that are calling us simply because they can’t find the stuff anywhere else,” he said. “A lot of the big box stores are starting to sell out of most of the supplies.”

Virginia Vranian was one of several customers picking up snow supplies from Pleasants Hardware on Saturday. She said being a nurse has helped her know how to prepare for a winter storm.

“When I was in nursing school, we had a class on how to prepare and our nursing supervisor put us in the basement of her house, so we had to figure out how to do things without a can opener or you know the modern things,” she said. “That was a really good lesson learned.”

She said she was lucky to not have lost power during the last storm in Chesterfield, but to prepare, she bought sterno fuel cans to be able to heat food in a pot in case her power does go out this time.

VDOT is asking drivers to avoid getting on the roads, especially areas near the I-81 corridor, an area expected to see the worst weather.

If travel is a must, VDOT urges the public to be prepared with essential items, including:

  • Keep at least a half-tank of fuel in the vehicle
  • Keep a blanket in the vehicle 
  • Keep winter clothing in the vehicle: Winter coat, heavy shoes or boots, gloves and a hat
  • A snow shovel and a bag of sand or cat litter
  • Jumper cables, a flashlight and batteries, ice scraper, phone charger and map (in case your phone battery goes dead)
  • Non-perishable snacks and water 

If travel is a must, VDOT reminds the public to:

  • Review forecasts along your entire route
  • Allow plenty of time to reach your destination
  • Review and be familiar with alternative routes to your destination
  • Do not pass snowplows
  • Give crews time and room to treat roads

Crews finished pretreating Interstate 64, a major road hard hit during the last winter storm on Friday. They also pretreated I-66 and major highways across the area.

VDOT crews will report to work Sunday morning to finish prepping the roads. Snowplow operators and contract crews will treat roads with salt and sand to aid melting and improve traction once precipitation begins falling.

Like the last winter storm, downed trees and power lines are expected and VDOT said pedestrians and drivers should be aware and cautious of those risks.