Schools announced closures or pivoted to virtual learning. Public works crews rallied snow plow drivers and began spreading salt on roadways. The governor declared a state of emergency.
Hampton Roads hunkered down Thursday as a winter snow storm threatens to drop as much as 8 inches of snow Friday.
Forecasters predict Virginia Beach and northeast North Carolina will see the highest snow totals in Hampton Roads during this weekend’s impending storm.
Between 6 and 8 inches of snow is expected in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake with lower accumulations moving west, according to a Thursday afternoon briefing report from the National Weather Service in Wakefield. Around 4 to 6 inches of snow is predicted to hit the southern Peninsula with snow totals around 3 to 4 inches on the northern Peninsula.
“Right now the highest possible snow amounts are from Virginia Beach into North Carolina — pretty close to the coast, actually,” said Cody Poche, an NWS meteorologist.
The approaching snowfall prompted Gov. Glenn Youngkin to declare a state of emergency Thursday.
“I am declaring a state of emergency today to aid in the response to the impending winter weather and to provide additional resources to address potentially high snow accumulations, transportation issues, and the potential for power outages,” Youngkin said in a statement.
Light snowfall starting late Friday morning across the region will grow heavier into the afternoon and evening, the weather service predicts.
On Thursday afternoon, rain fell across the region and forecasters said a quick afternoon burst of 1 to 2 inches of wet snow was possible as temperatures dropped. The conditions were expected to create hazardous roadways for the evening and morning commutes — particularly on the Peninsula, Poche said.
A winter storm advisory was issued for Hampton Roads and northeastern North Carolina, beginning 5 p.m. Thursday and lasting until 7 a.m. Friday, according to NWS Wakefield. A winter storm watch — which alerts the public of a potential blizzard, heavy snow, heavy freezing rain or heavy sleet — for the region begins Friday morning and will be in effect until Saturday morning.
Some school divisions and city services announced delays and closures in anticipation of the storms.
The Virginia Department of Transportation is urging drivers to avoid nonessential travel during the storms. If you must drive, make sure to bring an emergency supply kit — including a flashlight, batteries, jumper cables, warm clothes and boots, a phone charger, ice scraper, snacks and water, according to Readygov.
VDOT began pre-treating Hampton Roads’ interstates, primary and high volume secondary roads Wednesday morning, spreading roughly 60,000 gallons of treatment by 5 p.m. Crews will continue pre-treatment preparation Thursday, as crews work 12-hour shifts, continuing until the end of the winter storm.
“All VDOT crews and contractors will be deployed, and the district is working to obtain additional forces from other areas of the Commonwealth,” said Holly Christopher, VDOT communications manager.
VDOT has prepared 169 plows and spreaders to deploy once snow accumulation reaches 2 inches. The department also has six tree-cutting crews on hand to assist with downed trees, branches and debris that may fall across roads as a result of wind or heavy snow.
“Crews plow routes where accumulations exceed 2 inches and will continue treating slick spots with salt to break down ice and sand to enhance traction for vehicles,” Christopher said.
Hampton Roads cities have also mobilized their own crews to treat roadways.
Local governments also announced closures and began outreach to homeless encampments in the region to distribute supplies and encourage people to seek shelter.
Staff writer Caitlyn Burchett contributed to this report.
Ali Sullivan, 757-677-1974, email@example.com