By 3:00 this afternoon, VDOT expects to have 2,000 trucks helping to keep Northern Virginia roads clear of snow. Still, the agency is bracing for “rapidly deteriorating weather conditions” and warning of a “very difficult rush hour.”

VDOT started pre-treating bridges and ramps and other trouble spots on state roads and highways yesterday, according to spokeswoman Joan Morris. Spots on I-66, I-95, I-395 and I-495 were treated with liquid magnesium chloride, while parts of major roads like Route 50 and Route 1 were pre-treated with salt brine.

Now, crews are in position to tackle snow that’s expected to fall at a rate of 1″ to 2″ an hour later this afternoon.

“Treatment trucks and plows are pre-positioning along interstates, major roads and in subdivisions throughout Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties for quick response,” VDOT said in a statement.

The agency is asking Northern Virginia drivers to stay off the roads tonight, if at all possible.

“The Virginia Department of Transportation urges motorists to plan ahead for their evening commutes, and to limit travel after 4 p.m. today,” VDOT said. “If motorists must travel, they are encouraged to check current weather, road conditions and traffic cameras before traveling by visiting or by calling 511.”

VDOT also issued the following winter driving tips:

  • Ensure that your vehicle is winter-ready.
  • Slow down, and keep a five-second distance or more behind other vehicles. Do no pass trucks applying chemicals unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be aware of areas prone to freezing such as ramps and bridges.
  • When driving on ice, do not slam on brakes. Turn gently and slowly.
  • Keep an emergency winter kit in your car.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.

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