— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) January 21, 2016
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency for Virginia because of the winter storm expected to slam the region tomorrow and Saturday.
McAuliffe declared the state of emergency around 8 a.m. Thursday to allow Virginia businesses, residents and officials to prepare for the impending snow, and urged them to prepare right away.
“Keeping Virginians safe in the event of severe weather is our top concern – that is why Virginia began preparing for severe winter weather yesterday by ordering more than 500 vehicles out to pretreat roads in Northern Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a press release. “All Virginians should take the threat of this storm seriously and take necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period.”
A Blizzard Watch was issued by the National National Weather Service Wednesday, well in advance of the storm that could bring up to two feet of snow in Reston.
The Blizzard Watch begins Friday at noon and will be in effect until Sunday morning. The NWS says to expect 40 mph winds and below-freezing temperatures.
Virginia road crews were not as vigilant Wednesday night, when an inch or two fell in DC and Northern Virginia, snarling traffic on main roads for hours.
Virginia officials issued the following tips for staying safe during the storm (after the jump).
- Stay off the roads during the storm unless travel is absolutely necessary.
- If travel is necessary, drive with caution and allow extra space around other vehicles.
- Use extreme caution around slow-moving equipment being used to treat roads, such as snow plows.
- Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter and is in safe driving condition. Keep an emergency kit in your car. Include items such as jumper cables, blankets, first aid kit, water, non-perishable food, cat litter or sand, shovel, flash light and batteries, ice scraper and cell phone charger.
- Check on elderly or homebound neighbors, family, and friends to ensure they are ready for this storm and any possible inconveniences or interruptions that may result. Bring pets inside from the cold.
- Be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least 72 hours, in case roads are blocked and/or there are power outages.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio and extra batteries for emergency information. Listen to local weather forecasts and instructions from local officials.
- If you need help, information or resources during the storm, call 211. Those with hearing impairments can call 711 for the Virginia Relay Center and then call 1-800-230-6977. Out of state or videophone users may also dial 1-800-230-6977 for assistance.
- Download the free Ready Virginia app at . Download the free VDOT 511 app for updates on road conditions.
Tim Regan contributed to this story.