McAuliffe declares state of emergency ahead of impending winter storm

virginiaGovernor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency at 2:20 p.m. today authorizing state agencies to assist local governments in responding to the significant winter storm that is expected to impact the Commonwealth over the next 24-48 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 also authorized a limited exemption to hours of service for trucks hauling gasoline and heating oil throughout Virginia. These exceptions activate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Section 390.23 Relief of Regulations, including hours of service, and are granted for the period beginning 5 p.m. December 29, 2017, until 5 p.m. January 13, 2018, or whenever the crisis has abated, whichever is sooner.

To read the content of these executive orders, visit governor.virginia.gov/executive-actions/executive-orders/

Governor McAuliffe urges Virginians to prepare for this major winter storm, which could dump up to a foot of snow in portions of eastern Virginia.

“The bitter cold that continues to plague the Commonwealth will be joined by a potentially significant winter storm which will blast Hampton Roads, the Northern Neck, Eastern Shore and other areas of Eastern Virginia with snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in some communities.” said Governor McAuliffe. “With this forecast in mind, all Virginians should take the necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for the travel disruptions, power outages and other threats to health and safety that could arise during this significant weather event.”

“VDOT has already taken measures to pre-treat roads and preposition equipment, crews 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.” 

“Localities in the path of this storm have already begun requesting assistance,” said Dr. Jeff Stern, Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM) State Coordinator. “VDEM will continue coordinate with VDOT, State Police, the Virginia Department of Health, the Virginia National Guard, and localities throughout Virginia to ensure all necessary preparedness efforts are in place, and any local needs for assistance are addressed before, during and after the storm.”

State Agencies are Preparing for the Impacts of the Storm

  • 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.
  • VDOT has more than 1,500 crew members and more than 1,400 pieces of equipment prepared to respond to the upcoming storm on each 12-hour shift.
  • VDOT’s Fredericksburg, Culpeper and Northern Virginia Districts have pretreated roads in advance of the storm. Richmond and Hampton Roads Districts are pretreating roads today.
  • The latest road conditions are available at www.511virginia.org, through the free mobile app or by phone. You can track the location of most snow plows at VDOT’s Snow Plow Tracker. The tracker is activated once snow reaches two inches or more.
  • VDOT’s first priority is safety, and crews will work around the clock until roads are passable. “Passable” means it is drivable with extreme caution, but may be snow-packed and may not be cleared curb-to-curb or to bare pavement. Crews may sand hills, curves and intersections to help with traction.
  • Overnight and through Thursday, the Virginia State Police Chesapeake and Richmond Divisions will have all available personnel ready to respond to emergency calls for service related to hazardous road conditions throughout the Eastern Shore, Hampton Roads, Middle Peninsula, Southside Virginia and the Metro-Richmond regions. Residents in those areas should delay travel Thursday morning as the winter storm arrives in Virginia. If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.
  • The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 150 additional personnel on state active duty and 30 vehicles for possible assistance with the state’s severe winter weather response operations. The guard plans to stage personnel at readiness centers in key locations across the Commonwealth in order to be ready to rapidly respond if needed. Potential missions for the guard include transportation through heavy snow, downed tree removal, debris reduction and distribution of food, water and other supplies.

What Citizens Should Do

  • Virginians should keep a close watch on the local weather forecast and stay off roads during this weather event unless travel is absolutely necessary. In addition to slick roads, blowing snow could reduce visibility to less than a quarter mile at times in some areas. If you must travel, allow extra time for the trip, drive at a low speed and stay at a safe distance from other vehicles.
  • If you encounter slow-moving equipment such as snow plows, slow down and give them the right of way.
  • Download the free VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions at: http://www.virginiadot.org/travel/511.asp. Or dial 5-1-1 from any phone for the latest travel conditions.
  • 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 homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and service interruptions that may result.
  • 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.
  • Bring pets inside from the cold.
  • Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
  • Listen to local media or contact local government for the location and availability of local warming shelters if you need a place to come in out of the cold.
  • If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 2-1-1. 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.
  • If motorists need to report an emergency, dial #77 on your mobile phone.

For more information on the Commonwealth’s response efforts for winter weather or to find out how to keep your family safe, visit www.vaemergency.gov.

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