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VDOT warns drivers about potential for black ice as temps plummet Friday

VDOT: Watch out for possible black ice overnight
Posted at 4:35 PM, Dec 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-22 17:11:45-05

RICHMOND, Va. – Crews will be on the lookout for the possible for black ice and and downed trees from high winds Friday, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation's (VDOT) Richmond District.

An arctic front will move through around daybreak, causing temperatures to plunge from the 40s into the 20s within a few hours. Wind chills will be near or below 10 degrees by late in the afternoon, and a wind chill advisory is in effect late Friday into Saturday for wind chills near or below zero.

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RELATED: Sharp temperature drop Friday morning, windy with stinging wind chills

"Any wet pavement from rainfall may turn into slick spots as temperatures dip below freezing," officials wrote. "Crews will be monitoring all state-maintained roads in the district for icy conditions, treating slick patches with salt to melt ice, and sand to give vehicles traction. Drivers should use extra caution Friday afternoon as temperatures remain cold and wet pavement may be icy in spots."

Reminders for drivers from VDOT:

  • Use caution in locations where pavement freezes first, including bridges, overpasses and shaded areas.
  • Monitor the forecast for both your location and destination when planning travel. Plan to travel around winter weather, not during the event.
  • Allow more time to reach your destination and leave extra room between vehicles while driving.
  • If you begin to skid, do not brake. Take your foot off the gas and steer the vehicle in the direction you want to go.

Additionally, winds will increase with gusts over 40 mph. A wind advisory is in effect for the entire state, with a high wind warning in the mountains for gusts over 60 mph.

VDOT officials said traffic signal crews and emergency tree crews are on standby for downed trees or inoperable signals.

"Wind speeds on the Benjamin Harrison and Varina-Enon bridges are being closely monitored by VDOT," officials said. "When there are high winds, tractor-trailers, box trucks, and large vans and SUVs are advised to not cross those two bridges. Trucks carrying small or empty loads may be especially at risk."

As rain turned more scattered Thursday evening, drivers in Central Virginia said they did not run into any issues on the roads.

“Fortunately, the temperatures are cooperating where we won't have icy situations down here,” Kevin Whitt said.

Whitt reported no problems on his drive from Williamsburg up to Fairfax Thursday, but he understands that folks in other areas might have a different story.

In fact, VDOT advised people to adjust their holiday travel plans to avoid driving through the Commonwealth through Friday, especially in the western parts of the state and along I-81 due to the possibility for snow and ice.

“It can be very dangerous out there, especially when you come across any snow or ice or anything like that,” Whitt said. “So it really pays to have a little extra time, a little extra patience.”

Whitt, who is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said he plans to stay home over the Christmas weekend as temperatures are expected to keep dropping.

“Considering how cold it’s going to be, we're hearing low temperatures in the single digits and everything,” he said.

VDOT officials warned drivers to be on the lookout Friday for possible downed trees and black ice.

Arthur Chadwick said he will take that warning seriously.

“A few years ago, my friend totaled my dad's car, because we were driving up to New Hampshire, and the rain switched to snow,” Chadwick said.

Knowing the dangers of driving in those conditions, Chadwick encourages others to be careful.

“My parents kind of texted me and was like, 'Hey, you know, drive safer,'” he said. “It's pretty rainy today.”

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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