Snow-related traffic accidents plague region, state

PHOTO CREDIT: Amanda George.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia State police are reporting that so far on Saturday, there have been nearly 200 crashes and more than 550 disabled vehicles statewide. Twenty-two crashes have been reported in the Richmond area alone and the city recently tweeted that 15 of those accidents occurred in the past two hours.

As of 5 p.m., Saturday, Virginia State Police are on the scene of 17 traffic crashes statewide and 63 disabled vehicles. The majority of stuck, disabled vehicles are occurring in the Metro-Richmond and Northern Virginia regions.

In addition, first responders have gotten stranded trying to navigate through the city streets.

State police issued the following statement, urging all Virginians to stay inside:

“Blowing and drifting snow are causing serious problems for road conditions and visibility across the Commonwealth. Due to the dangerous nature of these conditions, Virginians are still being advised to stay home for their own safety. This includes pedestrian traffic, as there are a number of individuals walking in the roads and putting themselves at risk due to the slick conditions. If you do have to walk, then please wear bright, reflective clothing, walk against traffic so you can see any oncoming vehicles and do not walk distracted (no texting or earbuds).”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe is also asking residents to stay indoors:

“The Commonwealth of Virginia is devoting every available resource to keeping communities safe as Winter Storm ‘Jonas’ continues to impact our entire state,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I want to thank the thousands of brave men and women who are working around the clock to keep our communities safe, as well as the Virginians who are heeding our call to stay home and avoid unnecessary travel. This storm is not over, and the impacts will continue after precipitation ends. I cannot overemphasize the importance of staying off of the roads so our road crews, state police, national guardsmen and women and local responders can do the important work of keeping our communities safe.”

Currently, there are about 2,000 homes and businesses without power regionally — statewide more than 3,000. In addition, more than 500 National Guardsmen have been deployed statewide.

About 9,500 Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and contract crews using 13,000 pieces of equipment (trucks, plows, and spreaders), continue around-the-clock operations to plow and treat roads.

They are making continuous passes on major roads, interstates, and primary roads, to keep them passable. With snow falling at a rapid rate, snow accumulates quickly on the roads between plow passes.

VDOT has offered the following tips:

  • Motorists are urged to stay off roads through the rest of today, tonight and tomorrow so crews can plow more quickly and get the roads in better shape. Tonight, visibility will be an issue with high winds and drifting snow.
  • Even when the snow stops and the weather is expected to clear tomorrow, snow removal will be very extensive through the week.
  • Interstate and primary roads are mostly in moderate condition (heavy snow pack), with the worst conditions from Richmond to Northern Virginia.
  • Secondary roads and subdivision streets are in moderate to severe condition (heavy snow covered and could be partially blocked).
  • If residents have a serious emergency (i.e. medical or fire), they should call 911 and VDOT will work in coordination with emergency responders to get them the help they need.
  • During the height of the storm, crews are focused on plowing interstate and primary roads. Once the snow stops and the major roads are in better condition, then crews can focus more on secondary and subdivision streets. Crews are expected to make at least one pass on these roads early next week. Crews have been able to make some passes on many secondary roads this weekend. Even when subdivision streets are plowed, they will be snow and ice covered until the weather gets warm enough to help break up the snow and ice.

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