RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) — The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is gearing up for winter weather in the Commonwealth Thursday.
In fact, officials said in a news release that VDOT crews have revved up their snowplows and are ready to battle “Old Man Winter.” [BONUS: Click here for the latest forecast from the CBS 6 Storm Team]
The agency warned motorists to drive carefully Thursday since rain is expected to turn to snow throughout the day.
“Our crews work day-to-day to keep Virginia’s roadways as safe as possible,” said VDOT Commissioner Greg Whirley. “As we prepare for this snow event, we encourage motorists to check road conditions prior to travel and, if possible, avoid unnecessary travel until conditions improve.”
Check out these driving tips and other resources from VDOT:
VDOT reminds motorists to use caution when driving during wintry weather. Drivers should:
- Check road conditions before they leave home by calling 511 or logging in to www.511Virginia.org
- 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
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.
Priorities for Clearing Roads
VDOT’s goal for typical snowstorms is to have all roads passable within 48 hours after a storm. Crews first clear interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. They will then treat secondary roads and subdivision streets if multi-day storms hit Virginia, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.
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.
TIPS AND RESOURCES
Do NOT Travel During Winter Storms
- 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.
Weather Changes Quickly
- 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.
Stuck In a Car or Truck
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.
- 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.