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Winter storm is quickly shifting travel plans in Charlottesville and across the country

The winter storm is complicating holiday travel plans with three closed airports, another three experiencing up to three-hour delays and thousands of flights canceled across the country.

At Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport, Delta Air Lines canceled two Friday-morning flights to LaGuardia Airport in New York while American Airlines canceled one flight scheduled to arrive at the same destination on Friday morning. American issued a one-hour delay for a flight headed to Charlotte, N.C., and Delta delayed a late afternoon flight to LaGuardia for less than an hour.

Amtrak trains leaving from Charlottesville experienced minor delays. Between two trips to Newark, N.J., one was delayed nearly two hours but left the station on Friday afternoon. This is also the case for the two scheduled trips to Moynihan, N.Y.

Delays in the skies may cause more traffic on the road.

The freezing mix of snow and sleet is guaranteed to create icy conditions on the roads. The Virginia Department of Transportation warns drivers to look out for black ice and slippery roads in shady spots, at higher elevations and on bridges because they are the first to ice over during winter storms. Winds up to 50 mph may create resistance while driving, especially for tractor-trailers and box trucks, as well as roadway debris from downed trees.

To stay safe in slippery conditions, VDOT advises travelers to leave at least five seconds of space driving behind all vehicles. Snowplows should be treated as emergency vehicles, so drivers should refrain from passing in addition to leaving five seconds of space behind them.

To report a road hazard or listen to traffic updates about construction, accidents and congestion, dial 511 or download the 511 app.

A cold front that made its way from Baltimore to Charlottesville on Friday morning caused temperatures to drop below 20 degrees across the region by noon the same day. As rain and snow conditions subside, arctic cold air following behind the front will continue to tank temperatures and create below-zero wind chills by sunset on Friday.

Freezing temperatures may cause locking mechanisms and windshield wipers to freeze up, so it may be necessary to take extra preparation time before getting on the road this weekend.

According to the National Weather Service, any standing water or moisture on untreated surfaces will quickly freeze on Friday night into Saturday morning. Black ice and slippery conditions are likely to appear on surfaces like sidewalks, parking lots, driveways and steps, which will increase the risk of a fall or injury.

By Friday afternoon, the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative restored more than five thousand power outages while nearly two thousand remained across the county, according to a press release from the REC on Friday. The REC advises people at home to keep essential electronics like cell phones charged while keeping batteries in a household flashlight. Use blankets and extra clothing for warmth and, if someone requires electricity for a medical condition, consider finding an alternate location with power.

Christmas Eve and the day before it are the busiest travel days of the winter holiday season, according to the Department of Transportation. Given holiday travel is inevitable, preparedness is key. Prepare an emergency travel car kit and stock it with an ice scraper, cell phone charger, jumper cables, blankets and more. Go to the VDOT website for tips on creating your own kit.

Northwest Virginia counties including Albemarle, Greene, Madison and Nelson will remain under a wind chill advisory until Saturday morning. Chills are expected to drop to 10 degrees below zero. The same areas will remain under a wind advisory until 6 p.m. on Friday. Winds are expected to reach 55 mph, which will be strong enough to cause power outages. The Blue Ridge Mountains are on a high wind advisory through Friday night.

The sun will return on the Monday after the holiday when temperatures will reach a high of 33 and a low of 21. The temperature will continue to rise throughout the week and warm up to nearly 60 degrees by Friday, Dec. 30.


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