From the Office of Martin Nohe, Coles District Supervisor
As you are probably aware, portions of Virginia including the Northern Virginia area are expecting periods of heavy snow and sustained winds today and into this evening. While details of how the storm will affect our area are always uncertain, it looks like we may receive anywhere from 5 to 9 inches of heavy, wet snow. I wanted to take a moment this evening to provide you with information and tips that you may find helpful as you prepare to weather the storm.
Traveling and VDOT
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has deployed more than 4,000 salt trucks and plows throughout Northern Virginia in preparation for the storm. Special attention will be paid to parts of Loudoun County where a special election is being held today to ensure that roads are clear for voters. Emergency tree contractors are on standby as strong winds could bring down trees and power lines. VDOT is urging commuters to stay off the road on Wednesday and let their crews clear the roads which are likely will be treacherous at times. Avoid driving unless absolutely necessary, because their snow removal work is much more effective if the crews do not have to work around passenger vehicles. If you absolutely have to go out, I would encourage you to call the business in advance, to make sure that they are open before you leave.
Major routes are treated with chemicals and plowed once two inches have fallen. In subdivisions and other low volume roads hills and other trouble spots are treated with sand and plowed when two inches have accumulated. In Northern Virginia, VDOT has one snow removal program for high volume roads such has Interstates 66, 95, 395, 495, Routes 1, 7, 15, 28, 50, Fairfax County Parkway, Prince William Parkway, etc.), and another snow removal program for subdivisions (main thoroughfares in neighborhoods, residential streets and cul de sacs). Therefore, crews will be working on high volume roads and in subdivisions concurrently. Within each of these programs, roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared first.
VDOT reminds motorists to use caution when driving during wintry weather. Drivers should:
- Check current weather, road conditions and traffic before traveling at www.511Virginia.org or by calling 511
- 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
Prince William County Government
Information about Prince William County government closings will be posted at www.pwcgov.org and information about the school system will be posted at www.pwcs.edu. Today, Prince William County Schools are closed and Prince William County Government is following an unscheduled leave policy, so some offices may be closed or have limited staff. The Board of County Supervisors will be meeting at 2:00 for an abbreviated meeting to deal with a small number of urgent matters, or items that can be dealt with quickly. The Board’s 7:30 session is cancelled. All agenda items not dealt with today will be heard at our February 11 meeting. My office will be closed the remainder of the day.
Electricity and Power Outages
This event could also lead to additional homes losing electrical service or other utilities. Residents are encouraged to charge mobile phones and lap top computers before the snow arrives and place flashlights in an easy to find location. Should you lose power, you should immediately contact your electrical provider. You may want to add these numbers to your cell phone now, just in case.
- NOVEC workers have fueled all utility trucks and loaded them with extra equipment. Tree crews have sharpened their chainsaws to be ready to cut trees off power lines. Extra damage assessment personnel will be scouting ahead of crews to help locate fallen trees and branches. And NOVEC’s System Operations Center will have all hands on deck. NOVEC warns customers to never go anywhere near a downed power line. If you see a line that’s down, assume it’s energized and deadly. Keep others far away and report it immediately. To contact NOVEC, call 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500.
- Dominion Virginia Power is preparing for this storm and they are encouraging customers to do the same. This is a significant weather system and Dominion is closely monitoring weather forecasts and moving crews in advance of the storm to areas expected to be hardest hit by the event. Their crews and equipment are ready and they have called in additional resources. To contact Dominion, call 1-866-366-4357.
Weathering the Storm
If you have neighbors who are home-bound or have mobility issues, or even if they just live alone, you may want to check in with them to make sure that they are OK. Being trapped in a snowstorm can be very frustrating for all of us, but it can especially difficult for those of us who face loneliness as well.
Finally, make sure that your outdoor pets have plenty of food, fresh water and an opportunity to stay warm. You may want to bring those pets in for the night if possible because temperatures will drop very low and this is anticipated to be a very wet, heavy snow.
Enclosed you will find information including winter safety, preparedness tips and emergency contact information that I hope will help you as you make preparations.
Hopefully, everything will be back to normal before we know it. In the meantime… PLEASE BE CAREFUL!