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‘All Hands on Deck’ for VDOT Snow Crews Thursday

Snow 3/3/14 (file photo)Arlington residents and area snow crews are gearing up for what may be the year’s final — and most potent — winter storm.

Up to 8 inches of snow are expected to fall Thursday, as cold air moves in and rain turns to sleet and snowflakes.

Arlington road crews — about 50 trucks total — are expected to start a “full team effort” to plow and treat roads at midnight, according to a Dept. of Environmental Services spokeswoman.

VDOT, meanwhile, said it has “all hands on deck” for Thursday’s storm. It has a website for residents to monitor snow-clearing progress: vdotplows.org.

VDOT issued the following press release Wednesday afternoon, urging drivers to stay off the roads Thursday.

Road crews in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties are preparing for another winter storm to include rain, sleet, and snow, followed by several days of frigid temperatures that will make clearing roads a challenge. By midnight, more than 3,800 trucks will be staged along interstates, major roads and neighborhood streets.

“We’re asking drivers to prepare now for a long couple of days,” said Branco Vlacich, VDOT’s district maintenance engineer for northern Virginia. “It will be vital to stay off the roads tomorrow, as conditions will be treacherous during the storm. Crews will also need that room to clear snow quickly during the day, because frigid temperatures overnight and through the weekend will mean repeated refreeze of any accumulation left on the road.”

With the storm expected to begin as rain, crews will not pre-treat for this storm. They will treat roads with salt and sand during sleet and freezing rain, and begin to plow as the storm transitions to accumulating snow.

What motorists and residents should know:

  • Road conditions will be treacherous during the storm. Drivers should stay off roads throughout the day tomorrow to provide crews as much room as possible to plow and treat roads.
  • Crews will plow and treat interstates, major roads and neighborhoods in northern Virginia concurrently.
  • Residents are asked to park in driveways or on the odd-numbered side of the street to allow plows room to pass.
  • Chemicals are not used in subdivisions, but crews sand hills, curves and intersections to provide traction. For most storms, one snowplow pass, about eight to ten feet wide, is made.
  • Repeated refreeze and black ice are likely through the weekend, with single-digit lows overnight and below-freezing pavement temperatures forecasted to persist for the next several days.

Arlington middle schools and most elementary schools are already slated to be closed to students Thursday and Friday for parent-teacher conferences. Arlington Public Schools has yet to make a final call on closing schools entirely on Thursday.

Milder weather is expected this weekend and early next week — but those hoping that spring will be here to stay would be well-advised to remember last year — when a winter storm on March 3, 2014 dropped about 4 inches of snow on the area, lower than most forecasts at the time. That storm was followed by warmer weather then, two weeks later, a St. Patrick’s Day storm that resulted in 7-8 inches of accumulation.

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