RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is advising drivers to be extra careful on the roads Monday.
The Super Doppler 10 Weather team is reporting the area could see between one and seven inches of snow, on top of about 1/4 of an inch of sleet and ice. Scattered sleet and snow is expected through midnight. Lows will be in the mid 20s overnight with wind chill values in the single digits.
Winter storm warnings were issued for all Virginia cities until midnight Tuesday and Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency.
Schools across the area closed ahead of the storm.
The weather event began in Virginia counties north of Hampton Roads Monday morning.
Locally, Virginia Beach Public Works spokesman Drew Lankford told WAVY News‘ Lex Gray crews were more concerned with the threat of ice than snow, which makes roadways treacherous for drivers.
Between 12 a.m. and 6:30 p.m., Virginia State Police troopers responded to more than 1000 traffic crashes across Virginia, including three confirmed weather-related fatal crashes in Brunswick County, Campbell County and Amelia County.
In Brunswick County a vehicle 31-year-old April Singleton was driving ran off the road and hit a tree. She survived, but her passenger, 35-year-old Sarah Singleton, died at the scene. April Singleton was charged with reckless driving. In Campbell County 18-year-old Mika T. Leclerc was killed when the 2002 Chevrolet Cavalier she was diving spun backwards into on coming traffic and hit a pick up truck. In Amelia County a 30year-old man was killed when his car overturned and hit a tree on Route 61
In the Hampton Roads area, troopers responded to 168 traffic crashes, 42 disabled vehicles and 442 total calls for service by 3:25 p.m., Corinne Geller with the Virginia State Police said.
Crews across Hampton Roads waited until the icy precipitation to begin before treating roadways, stating the rain would just wash any treatment away.
Drivers are advised to stay off the roads. If you have to travel, VSP released the following traffic safety tips:
- State law requires headlights to be on when windshield wipers are in active use
- Completely clear all windows and head/taillights of snow/ice before traveling
- Add extra time to reach travel destination
- Slow your speed for road conditions
- Increase driving distances between vehicles for increased stopping distance
- Do not tailgate snow plows or sand trucks
- Always buckle up and ensure your passengers are buckled up as well
- Do not drive distracted
- If your vehicle begins to hydroplane steer your vehicle in the direction you want your vehicle to go
- Brake and accelerate lightly
- Plan ahead before you travel by calling 511 for road conditions or click on http://www.511virginia.org
- Have a charged cell phone and extra blankets, water, snacks in case your vehicle becomes disabled
- Know your location to give to an emergency dispatcher to include the direction of travel in case you need emergency response. Use exit numbers or mile markers when on the interstate as points of reference (For example, Interstate 95 northbound at the 80 mile marker.)
- Motorists are also reminded to comply with Virginia’s “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to change to another travel lane or, when not able to, to cautiously pass emergency personnel stopped on the side of the road. State law includes highway maintenance vehicles and tow trucks equipped with flashing amber lights.
VDOT tips for drivers:
- Postpone unnecessary travel until conditions improve. If you must drive, know the current road conditions and weather forecasts.
- Slow down and allow extra time to reach your destination.
- Be aware of potentially icy areas such as bridges, overpasses and shady spots. Also, if there is heavy snow, ice or high winds, be alert to potential driving hazards including downed branches, trees and powerlines.
- Keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind other vehicles and snowplows.
- Do not pass a snowplow unless it is absolutely necessary. Remember, the plow is clearing a path for you.