The National Weather Service office in Blacksburg has issued a winter weather advisory for a heavy, wet snow event beginning around noon Thursday and peaking during the evening rush hour before ending by midnight.
The advisory means those periods of snow will cause travel difficulties.
“The snow will be heavy and wet,” meteorologist Phil Hysell said. “A brief period of freezing rain may occur during the transition from rain to snow, but any icing will be light and confined to the higher elevations.”
At 3:56 p.m., the National Weather Service issued a forecast that called for a snow accumulation up to two inches in the Danville area, with accumulations of four inches possible in Lynchburg and four to eight inches in the mountains.
The weight of the heavy snow likely will bring down power lines, causing power outages, Hysell said. Winds will be 10 to 15 mph, with gusts of 20 to 25 mph.
Danville Public Works Department crews will begin mounting plows and salt spreaders to its fleet of 22 trucks when they arrive to work Thursday morning. The department also has three tankers filled with brine, but the brine may not be of use in this storm event, said Public Works Director Rick Drazenovich.
“The problem is the roads are wet now and there is a 100 percent chance of rain Thursday morning,” Drazenovich said. “If we put it (brine) down and heavy rain precedes the snow, it is going to wash it away.”
Brine is a mixture of water and salt. The water in the brine evaporates, leaving the salt behind
on the road. The salt breaks the bond between the snow and the roadway, and it therefore helps prevent the snow from freezing onto roads and bridges.
Drazenovich said the plows generally encounter little difficulty in scraping heavy, wet snow from the roadways, depending on temperatures. Temperatures on Friday are forecast to reach the upper 30s to low 40s, which should be warm enough to prevent snow from bonding to the road surface.
Residents and visitors are reminded that snow and ice removal is accomplished on a priority basis. The top priority is main thoroughfares and collector streets leading to various emergency facilities. Second priorities are routes that connect to primary routes and bus routes. Only after primary and secondary routes are cleared is work begun on residential streets.
If the snow event ends around midnight Thursday, Drazenovich said the crews would make a final pass overnight on the main thoroughfares, and then move into the secondary routes. Crews could reach residential streets as early as mid-morning on Friday.
In preparing for winter weather, residents should consider the following tips:
• If snow or ice is in the forecast, always attempt to have a full tank of gasoline. In addition to the added weight to your vehicle, the extra fuel might come in handy if you become delayed in traffic or if you become stranded.
• Allow yourself extra time when preparing to leave for work or other destinations.
• Always clean off your vehicle before operation. Lack of visibility from poorly cleaned windows is dangerous when coupled with inclement weather. Always allow your car to warm up and keep in mind additional snow or ice on the roof, hood, or trunk of your vehicle, as it could become loose in transit. The sudden blinding by an airborne sheet of snow or ice can cause visibility issues for you or another motorist.
• Always wear your safety belt. The use of safety belts is proven to save lives.
• Start out slowly in the lowest gear recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
• Be aware of potentially icy areas such as shady spots and bridges.
• Icy or wet roads can decrease your needed stopping times when braking. A four- to six-second following time rule is generally accepted; however, on wet or icy roads, increasing this distance to a minimum of an eight-second following time would be well worth the effort.