Governor Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency today, authorizing state agencies to assist local governments responding to the winter storm that is expected to affect the Commonwealth early Friday through Saturday.
The storm’s final track and potential snow, ice or rain amounts are still uncertain, but the current outlook calls for the possibility of up to 20 inches of snow and high winds in the northern and western parts of the state; up to three-quarters of an inch of freezing rain for much of western and southwestern Virginia; and heavy rains and high winds in southeastern Virginia.
The precipitation, along with high winds and saturated ground, means that there is a high potential for power outages, hazardous road conditions and blocked roads. Areas that receive significant ice or freezing rain could be without power for several days.
Governor McDonnell noted, “This storm will bring severe weather to many parts of Virginia. Please stay alert to the forecast for your area and make sure your family and neighbors are ready for hazardous weather conditions. As the storm affects your area, please stay off the roads and contact local authorities if help is needed.”
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. A state of emergency must be issued in advance to allow for proper and effective preparation. State agencies are getting ready for the storm by taking several actions, including:
- The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has held weather conference calls with the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.
- The Virginia Department of State Police and the Department of Transportation are preparing to keep roadways clear and assist motorists.
- The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring personnel on state active duty. The Virginia Guard Joint Operations Center has started the notification process instructing personnel to report for duty.
- The Virginia Emergency Operations Center will bring in a small number of response team members beginning Friday morning. By Friday night, a larger group from several state agencies, major utilities and other affiliated organizations will be in place.
Virginians can prepare for the storm by having an emergency kit in their home and vehicle that includes water, food, a battery-powered radio, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries. Also, citizens should monitor news outlets for updates on this developing storm, and check road conditions before they leave home by calling 511 or logging in to 511Virginia.org. Virginians are also encouraged to keep handy the emergency numbers and shelter locations for their immediate area, and to contact their local emergency manager if in need of shelter or assistance. If it is an emergency call 911.
In areas where significant snowfall or icing occurs, Virginians are encouraged to stay off the roads until the storm abates and roads are cleared.
More information about winter weather preparedness is available at http://www.vaemergency.com/threats/winter/index.cfm