RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With forecasts calling for a major winter storm event to impact portions of Virginia tonight through Tuesday, Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Monday afternoon. This action authorizes state agencies to assist local governments as they prepare and respond to the coming winter weather over the next 24 hours.
In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. This action does not apply to individuals or private businesses.
Governor McAuliffe urges Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm, which could dump up to a foot or more of snow in northern regions of the Commonwealth.
“Virginians may have enjoyed milder temperatures for the past several weeks, but the forecast is calling for winter weather to return to the Commonwealth this week with what could be a major winter storm for northern portions of the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”
“VDOT is prepared with crews, equipment and materials to treat roads in advance of the storm and will work throughout the storm to plow roads,” said Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne. “Driving conditions during the storm are expected to be hazardous and motorists are urged to stay off the roads until the storm passes.”
“Our number one goal is to keep Virginians safe during any natural disaster impacting the state,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran. “While the brunt of this storm will be focused on the Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia, the Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police and Virginia National Guard personnel have been activated to assist any localities impacted by snow or a wintry mix.”
- Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews have begun 24-hour operations and are pretreating roads where temperatures permit. Motorists are strongly encouraged to stay off the roads during the storm. For information about road and traffic conditions, check www.511virginia.org or call 511 before traveling.
- The Virginia State Police have uniformed personnel and necessary specialty units ready for response to the next round of increased volumes in traffic crashes, disabled vehicles, and other storm-related emergencies. Virginians are advised to plan ahead for slick, treacherous road conditions. They can also help reduce traffic crashes and delays by avoiding travel during the storm.
- The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 200 personnel to be staged across Northern Virginia to support requests for assistance. Expected missions for the Guard include using Humvees and light/medium tactical trucks to provide transportation for first responders through deep snow or help evacuate citizens in need of shelter as well as providing debris reduction teams with chain saws to help clear roads if needed.
What Citizens Should Do:
- Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary. If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles.
- Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
- If you have electric-dependent medical equipment, make sure all primary and backup batteries are fully charged. Make sure you have the medical supplies you will need for at least 72 hours.
- If you receive dialysis treatments or have other critical medical appointments during the week, make plans now for transportation or reschedule if possible.
- Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
- Check on elderly or neighbors who are unable to leave their homes, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result.
- Bring pets inside from the cold.
- Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
- If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 211. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
- Download the free VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp.