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UPDATED: Winter weather expected to pack a punch; VSP says stay off roads if possible

UPDATE: 6:44 a.m.

Central Virginia roads and highways are growing snow covered, slick and slippery as the winter’s first snowfall, and its first storm, begin in earnest.

According to the Virginia Department of Transportation, most main roads running through the region, including Interstate 64, U.S. 250 and U.S. 29 are facing slushy or snow covered conditions with the storm limiting visibility on Interstate 64 around Afton Mountain.

“At this hour, weather impacts are limited to the western area near the Blue Ridge Mountains,” said VDOT spokesman Lou Hatter. “Heavy snow is expected to continue through the morning, with significant accumulations in a short period of time. Later today high winds will add to the hazardous conditions with the potential for trees and debris to fall on roads.”

VDOT crews and contractors are on the roads deploying a mix of sand and salt to melt snow and provide better grip for tires.

“Once the snow and slush accumulates to about two inches, the plows will push the snow off the roadways,” Hatter said. “Crews will work around the clock to clear roads, shifting onto secondary roads and neighborhood streets once the main roads are cleared.”

Hatter recommends anyone who doesn’t need to drive, stay home.

The snow has slowed not only traffic, but the opening of many government offices. Both Albemarle and Charlottesville courts, Circuit Court and District Court, are delaying opening until 10 a.m..

Schools are closed in Buckingham and Greene counties and the towns of Gordonsville and Orange are opening two hours late, along with Madison County government offices.

According to the University of Virginia’s social media accounts, the storm has moved January term classes, which start today, indoors to all online course.

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The National Weather Service predicts heavy snow with accumulation of three to seven inches, starting about 5 a.m. Monday. The NWS has issued a winter weather advisory from 11 p.m. Jan. 2 until 1 p.m. Jan. 3.

The NWS and the Virginia State Police urge travelers to stay at home if possible. The NWS cautions that if people must travel, they should keep an extra flashlight, food, and water in their vehicle in case of an emergency.

Also, the agency cautions that people take care when venturing outside. "Watch your first few steps taken onsteps, sidewalks, and driveways, which could be icy and slippery, increasing your risk of a fall and injury," the agency said.

The National Weather Service forecasts a sharp drop in temperature Monday night, with a low of 17 degrees possible on Tuesday morning, Jan. 4. That’s the day local schoolchildren are due back into classrooms.

If you must travel during the storm, the VSP advises:

– Before heading out, check Virginia road conditions at www.511virginia.org or download the VDOT 511 app.

– Clear all snow and ice from the roof, trunk, hood and windows of your vehicle—car, SUV, minivan, pickup truck, commercial vehicle—before you travel.

– Use your headlights—in rain and snow. Virginia law requires headlights on when your wipers are active.

– Drive for conditions—slow your speed and increase your traveling distance between the vehicle ahead of you.

– Always buckle up.

– Avoid distractions—put down the phone.

– Do not call 911 or #77 for road conditions. Please leave these emergency lines open for emergencies only.

Source: www.dailyprogress.com

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