Last winter Virginians got a big reminder on how brutal – and dangerous – winter weather can be. Today several state agencies joined forces to announce their preparedness plans, provide winter safety information and urge residents to get ready now.
“Governor Bob McDonnell has declared Dec. 5-11 Winter Preparedness Week,” said Terrie Suit, Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness. “The loss of life and property during winter months can be greatly reduced if Virginians will take the time to prepare before snow or ice is ever in the forecast.”
“During snow and ice storms, we will deploy every available resource to ensure that state maintained roads remain passable during winter weather,” said Virginia Secretary of Transportation Sean T. Connaughton. “Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) crews, equipment and materials stand ready.”
“Last winter’s severe weather caused power outages that shut down schools, offices and businesses,” said Virginia Secretary of Public Safety Marla Graff Decker. “We ask Virginians to make sure they are properly prepared for winter weather and that they have an emergency kit on hand should they lose power.”
This year, VDOT has a statewide snow removal budget of $115.1 million, a $21.4 million increase over last year’s budget. The Commonwealth spent $266.8 million on snow operations during the extraordinary winter of 2009-2010.
VDOT has a total of 7,519 state and hired pieces of equipment. About 48,000 tons of sand and 281,000 tons of salt, 330,000 gallons of liquid calcium chloride and 138,000 gallons of liquid magnesium chloride are in stock and will be replenished as they are used.
When snow or ice is forecast, crews will pre-treat trouble spots on interstates and other high-volume roads with anti-icing chemicals including salt brine, magnesium-chloride and calcium-chloride. These chemicals help prepare the pavement and prevent a bond from forming between the roadway and snow and ice.
VDOT’s goal is to have all roads passable within 48 hours after the storm ends. Crews begin by 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 Commonwealth, but crews will focus efforts on those roads that carry the most traffic.
A statewide network of 77 weather sensors in roadways and bridges, plus 16 mobile video data platforms, allows crews to quickly identify when and where road surfaces might be freezing.