Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 6, 2013

Road crews prepared for potentially potent winter storm

KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Utility and road crews began mobilizing Tuesday in preparation of a winter storm expected to move through the region today.

The National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., has issued a winter weather advisory for Mercer, Monroe, Tazewell and Giles counties effective until 6 a.m. Thursday. The advisory is calling for heavy, wet snow and wind gusts between 10 and 40 miles per hour.

Phil Moye, a spokesperson with Appalachian Power, said utility crews are continuing to monitor the storm’s progression.

“We are monitoring the storm as of now,” Moye said. “I don’t think we have acquired any additional resources as of yet, but we are looking at having a good chance of outages due to the storm.”

 Tom Camden, district manager for the West Virginia Division of Highways District 10, said state road crews were out Tuesday pre-treating roads in preparation for the storm.

“We have been trying to prepare for this storm as soon as we got word of it,” Camden said. “We have prepared all the available equipment we have. There are some things you cannot prepare for, but we have prepared what we have. We have plenty of material. We will be doing a lot of pre-treating before the storm as well. Laying down salt beforehand can sometimes help keep the road clear during storms.”

Camden said motorists are advised to stay off roadways if possible during the storm.

“We are expecting a heavy, wet snow, which means roads will get a lot slicker a lot quicker,” he said. “If people can avoid being out, it is a very big help to us. It helps us get our jobs done more quickly if there aren’t as many people on the road. We understand people have to work and other things they have to do, but keeping off roadways is the safest thing for everyone involved.”

The Virginia Department of Transportation also began mobilizing snow removal equipment Tuesday, according to VDOT spokesperson Michelle Earl.

“With the potential for snow in the region, VDOT crews are poised and ready for snow removal activities,” Earl said. “Crews will be out working in 12-hour shirts, 24-hours-a-day, to clear roads throughout this winter weather event. VDOT advises motorists to be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions, asking motorists to be aware of the conditions before traveling and postpone unnecessary travel. Drivers should slow down and allow extra time to reach their destination, be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges and keep a safe distance of at least five seconds behind vehicles and snowplows.”

Earl said crews will start work on interstates, primary and major secondary routes before progressing to removing snow from other state roadways.

 “VDOT’s goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after a winter storm ends,” she said. “Crews first begin clearing interstates, primary roads and major secondary roads that connect localities, fire stations, employment hubs, military posts, schools, hospitals and other important public facilities. Secondary roads and subdivision streets will be treated if multi-day storms hit the cCommonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.”

However, winter weather isn’t expected to last into the weekend. James Clark, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the region could see more spring-like weather this weekend.

“On Thursday, the system should slowly begin to clear out,” Clark said. “There could be a few upslope snow showers on Thursday morning. It should warm up quite a bit on the weekend. It will be slightly warmer and getting into the low 40s on Thursday. By the time we get into Friday and the weekend, we should see temperatures getting into the low to mid-40s. We are expecting temperatures to approach the 50s on Saturday. Things should be pretty dry during the weekend. It should be relatively nice as it warms up. It looks like it should be a pretty dry weekend with moderating temperatures.”

— Contact Kate Coil at kcoil@bdtonline.com