Snow-covered street

A snow-covered street seen in downtown Leesburg.

Officials from the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and other state agencies, as well as the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office, on Thursday encouraged residents to avoid travel and exercise caution on roadways, ahead of an expected 3 to 4 inches of snowfall overnight in Northern Virginia.

During a Thursday morning conference call with state agencies including the Virginia State Police and the Virginia office of the National Weather Service, among others, VDOT commissioner of highways Stephen Brich urged local officials to encourage their constituents to postpone travel as long as possible, as VDOT crews continue pre-treatment of major roadways ahead of the forecasted storm.

“Pre-treatment of our interstate primary and high-volume [secondary roadways] is currently underway,” Brich said. For drivers who have to make use of roadways once the snow has begun falling, he emphasized keeping “a safe distance of at least five seconds behind the vehicles that are in front of you. Brake lightly to keep your tires from slipping on the pavement, and please do not pass our plows.”

Officials said due to Sunday’s rainy conditions, crews were unable to pre-treat roads ahead of Monday’s snow because the salt would have proved ineffective.

Meteorologist Jeff Orrock of the National Weather Service office in Wakefield confirmed during the call that Northern Virginia can expect about 3 to 4 inches of snow during Thursday night’s storm.

The bulk of the snowfall accumulation in the I-95 corridor “is going to occur from … about maybe 11 p.m. tonight until about maybe 3 to 4 a.m. tomorrow morning,” Orrock said. “It's an overnight event and by the time folks get up in the morning, pretty much the event’s going to be wrapping up.”

In an email to the Times-Mirror, the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office’s director of media relations and communications, Kraig Troxell, said Loudoun resident should avoid travel during the snow storm, and if possible, delay their morning commutes until after conditions have improved.

Troxell echoed Brich’s message about maintaining a safe stopping distance behind other vehicles, and leaving enough room on roadways for plows and other maintenance vehicles.

Those who must take to roadways during the snow should, “use extreme caution when driving,” he said. “You may not be able to stop as quickly as normal on the snow-covered or wet pavement.”

In addition to standard driving precautions, Troxell encouraged residents who do make use of roadways after the snow begins to keep their gas tank topped off, make sure they carry a cell phone in case of emergencies, wear their seatbelts and clear all snow and ice from their vehicles before driving.

Motorists should “Pay attention,” and “Don’t try to out-drive the conditions,” he said.

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