The Virginia Department of Transportation and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative are both relaying the same message: Prepare now for the predicted winter storm expected to arrive early Thursday.
The storm, according to a VDOT news release, is forecast to begin as snow and change to sleet and freezing rain later on.
"Do not attempt to travel during this storm," the release says, as travel is likely to be difficult and dangerous."
"All preparations for the storm should be completed today (Wednesday)," the release says. "The Virginia Department of Emergency Management is advising residents to prepare for possible widespread and lengthy power outages due to ice felling trees and power lines."
VDOT crews are applying a mix of salt and water to interstate and primary highways across the district’s nine counties today and will report for duty tonight and transition to 24-hour operations.
"Once precipitation begins falling, snowplows will spread salt and sand; the salt will help melt any ice on the roads and sand increases traction. As snow accumulates to about two inches on roadways they will begin plowing," the release says. "Crews will continue working around the clock to keep roads safe for emergency responders and others who must be out on the roads during the storm."
For those who must drive during the storm:
Clear your vehicle of all snow and ice including the roof
Reduce speed and increase following distance
Stay in control. Make smooth, precise movements with the steering wheel and anticipate lane changes, turns and curves well in advance
Give plows room to work
Use VDOT’s free 511 tools to check road conditions
VDOT’s Customer Service Center is open all day to answer questions and take reports of roadway hazards. Call 1-800-FOR-ROAD (367-7623) or contact VDOT at my.vdot.virginia.gov.
Additional information about winter-weather preparations and response can be found at www.virginiadot.org/travel/snow.asp. Local updates are posted to Twitter.com/VaDOTCulp and the district’s snow emergency webpage.
REC urges member-owners to prepare now.
“Do not be caught off-guard,” said Casey Hollins, Director of Communications and Public Relations. “This storm poses a very real threat of additional and possibly prolonged power outages, including the areas where power was restored over the past few days. The time to prepare is now.”
Make sure you have flashlights and fresh batteries. Gather extra blankets and additional layers of clothing in case they are needed, and charge all electronics such as cell phones. Ensure you have a back-up heat source or have a plan in the event that extended outages occur. A complete list of storm preparedness items you should gather can be found at myrec.coop/stormprep.
“If you have a wood-burning fireplace or woodstove, make sure you are well-stocked with wood. Also, if you have a well pump, remember to fill your bathtubs with water before the storm begins,” Hollins said.
“At REC, please know that we are always looking out for you. During every power outage and every weather event, we will work as quickly as possible to provide updates on social media, on our website and through emails to you. REC’s crews take pride in working as hard as possible and as long as they safely can to get your power restored.”
Should you lose power, always report your outage at myrec.coop/out or in MyREC SmartHub. Outages can also be reported by calling 1-800-552-3904. If someone in your home requires electricity for a serious medical condition, now is the time to identify an alternate location with power that you can rely on during an outage.