Friday, January 7 update: Winter weather has caused cancellations, delays and traffic issues in the western part of Virginia and Northern Virginia on Friday, but Hampton Roads didn’t see precipitation.
You can read more about Friday’s weather and the forecast for the weekend in WAVY’s weather blog.
RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR/WAVY) – On Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam declared a State of Emergency as the second winter storm of the week is approaching.
The storm is expected to impact the western end of the state starting on Thursday night and head into Hampton Roads early Friday morning.
It’s likely that the impacts from this next storm will be much less than the one we had on Monday, which led to hundreds of people being stranded for hours in major gridlock on I-95 in the Fredericksburg area. The advisories and warnings issued by the National Weather Service do not include eastern Virginia, but areas to our north and west.
“Having two bouts of snow and icy weather back to back makes it more likely communities will need additional help as they continue to recover from the first round of tree-snapping wet snow and ice that we saw Monday. While we typically have ample resources for snow storms, these back-to-back events will generate landmark winter weather that requires extra flexibility. I am grateful to the hundreds of first responders and emergency personnel who continue to work around the clock to keep Virginians safe.”Gov. Ralph Northam
This order will activate the Virginia Emergency Operations Center, the Virginia Emergency Support Team and the Virginia National Guard who will be ready to help localities deal with any significant impacts relating to the storm.
WAVY sister station WRIC reported Wednesday night that 20 Virginia National Guard soldiers would be on call with chainsaws in southwest Virginia by Thursday morning. There would be 20 airmen with chainsaws on call in the Virginia Beach area.
Ahead of more snow expected on Friday, several officials across the Commonwealth are preparing for possible issues and encouraging drivers to stay off the roads.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says their crews are working to clear up snow from Monday’s storm, as well as pre-treating interstates and primary and major secondary roadways ahead of potential snow.
They urge drivers in areas that are expected to be hit by the storm to limit nonessential travel and exercise extreme caution if they must drive. Drivers are reminded to not pass snow plows and allow for extra time on their drive.
State police, meanwhile, is encouraging Virginians to be weather aware, to plan ahead and to avoid traveling during inclement conditions.
“Back-to-back storms are nothing new for the state police or Virginia,” said Major R.C. Maxey, Jr., Virginia State Police Bureau of Field Operations Deputy Director, during a press conference held Thursday morning. “State Police is prepared for this latest round of winter weather. We will have all available troopers on patrol in order to respond as quickly as possible to traffic crashes, emergencies, and disabled motorists. We will extend shifts, call out additional troopers, and redirect resources when and where needed, just as we did earlier this week.”
The National Guard will also be on standby to help with storm response. About 20 soldiers are on duty in the southwest Virginia area and another 20 airmen are mustered in the Virginia Beach area.
Both crews will begin moving into the Northern Virginia area Thursday afternoon. They are equipped with chain saws to conduct debris reduction operations to clear fallen trees to open blocked roads, and they will travel in heavy-duty trucks capable of navigating through heavy snow.
Locally, Portsmouth officials are going to pre-treat roads and bridges on Friday morning in case the storm shifts south.