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VDOT: Crews monitoring for black ice; 'refreeze cannot be ruled out'

Officials: More fallen trees, downed power lines possible during and after storm
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Posted at 9:33 AM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-19 07:20:15-05

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Officials with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) are urging folks to stay off the roads Thursday night and Friday after a winter storm brings more wintry precipitation to the Commonwealth.

"While pavement is wet, overnight refreeze cannot be ruled out," VDOT officials warned. "Crews will be monitoring roads for black ice and treating as necessary, but those making essential trips should use extra caution."

"Drivers commuting from work should greatly reduce their speed and allow extra time to get home," officials said.

While road conditions for most roads are deemed minor, meaning the roads are passable with caution, there is a potential for icy patches or snow on the roadway.

“Make the safe decision to stay at home tonight if travel is nonessential,” said Richmond District Maintenance Engineer Sean Nelson, P.E. “Even if road conditions appear ordinary, there is still a risk of falling trees and power lines tonight and tomorrow as the next wave of precipitation comes in and ice weighs down branches. We will move into a long term recovery effort once precipitation ends and we can safely assess road impacts.”

VDOT officials said crews are stationed across the 14-county district to address slick spots by using salt to break down icy patches and sand to aid with traction.

Officials said crews will first focus most on interstate, primary routes and "major roads to essential services" before moving on to secondary and neighborhood routes.

State police called to 350+ crashes

Officials with Virginia State Police said troopers had been called to 385 crashes and 255 disabled vehicle calls from midnight through 4 p.m.

"State police is investigating a single-vehicle fatal crash in Caroline County," officials said. "At this stage of the investigation, that crash does not appear to be weather-related."

  • Richmond Division: 45 Disabled Vehicles & 94 Traffic Crashes
  • Culpeper Division: 47 Disabled Vehicles & 48 Traffic Crashes
  • Appomattox Division: 25 Disabled Vehicles & 45 Traffic Crashes
  • Wytheville Division: 27 Disabled Vehicles & 20 Traffic Crashes
  • Chesapeake Division: 27 Disabled Vehicles & 41 Traffic Crashes
  • Salem Division: 37 Disabled Vehicles & 52 Traffic Crashes
  • Fairfax Division: 50 Disabled Vehicles & 85 Traffic Crashes

Troopers were working 8 crashes and 5 disabled/stuck vehicle calls across the state as of 4 p.m., according to officials.

VDOT's advice for people who have to drive Thursday:

  • Avoid travel during and after this event. There is no safe way to drive in icy conditions. Plan travel around winter weather – not during. Pay close attention to local forecasts and utilize VDOT’s 511 app and 511Virginia.org to check on road conditions.
  • If travel is essential, avoid passing snow plows and other heavy equipment or following them too closely. Please give VDOT crews room to work.
  • Report road hazards to VDOT at 800-FOR-ROAD (800-367-7623) or visit my.vdot.virginia.gov