Snow is on the way

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

If Mother Nature has her way with Suffolk, residents could be shoveling snow Friday morning. According to Suffolk’s Emergency Management Coordinator Captain Jim Judkins, parts of the city could see up to four inches of snow if the weather patterns play out as predicted late Wednesday evening.

&uot;We have set a winter storm watch for Thursday evening through Friday afternoon because we have an approaching winter storm that’s expected to track across North Carolina Thursday night,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;The storm is expected to intensify off the Mid-Atlantic coast and move northeast on Friday. We’re expecting it to bring a potential for significant snowfall, beginning as light snow Thursday evening, then mixing or changing over to rain, especially near the bay and ocean by around midnight. Then, as the warmer air moves in from the Atlantic, the precipitation should turn back to all snow by Friday morning. It’s expected to be heavy at times, with accumulations up to five inches in northeastern North Carolina.&uot;

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He said Suffolk and surrounding areas could get from one to four inches and in Isle of Wight County, they should expect up to six inches of snow.

&uot;We do have a potential for significant snow and ice accumulations and driving and walking conditions may become hazardous,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;It is extremely important to monitor the weather forecasts and I would advise people to watch weather reports and prepare for such conditions.&uot;

Winter can mean a disruption of electric power and a heat source, and it can also mean serious driving problems for those who must travel the roadways. Judkins said there are ways to prepare for a storm before it strikes.

&uot;Anyone who drives in winter weather should have an emergency storm car kit with them at all times,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;You should always keep the items in the vehicle where they may be easily reached. The items should all be kept together in a container, such as one of the large plastic tubs like you can get at any store. By placing them in one container, the items are less likely to be lost or used at another time.&uot;

Judkins said a winter storm car kit should contain emergency flares, a battery powered radio, dry winter clothing, a first aid kit, and packages of dried fruit and nuts. He suggested that a brightly colored cloth should be placed in the kit in case an emergency flag is needed to summon help. Also, a flashlight, blanket, boots, a windshield scraper, extra batteries for the radio, bottled water and gloves would be part of a kit.

Of course, a small sack of play sand, such as purchased at Lowe’s, a small shovel, windshield scraper, jumper cables and a tow chain or rope should be included in the emergency kit.

Judkins, who also serves as a captain with the Suffolk Fire Department, also had several suggestions concerning breakdowns during a winter storm.

&uot;First of all, stay in your car,&uot; he said. &uot;You could become disoriented, especially if we had a severe snow storm. It would make it more difficult for rescue personnel to find you. Also, use your cell phone to call for help, and tie that piece of colored cloth, red or orange is best, to your vehicle’s antenna as a distress signal. And, turn on the vehicle’s engine for only 10 minutes each hour. Run the heater during that time, but beware of carbon monoxide poisoning and clear snow from the exhaust pipe to prevent the fumes from backing up into the vehicle.&uot;

Virginia Department of Transportation crews are ready for the first snowfall of the season. Snow fighting chemicals are stored, the snowplows are ready, and crews are well rehearsed on snow removal routes. Earlier this year, VDOT held annual training classes and exercises to ensure the best use of resources during winter weather.

This winter in the Hampton Roads district, which includes the Southside, Peninsula, western Tidewater, the Eastern Shore, and four bridge tunnel facilities, more than 450 VDOT employees and over 225 pieces of snow removal equipment are ready. More than 35,000 tons of salt, sand and abrasives are on hand in the event of a snowstorm.

Private contractors with snow removal equipment are on call if more help is needed.

VDOT has budgeted $48 million for snow removal statewide.

VDOT’s Emergency Operation Center monitors storms through a statewide information system and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To keep motorists informed of trouble spots, VDOT’s Smart Traffic Center uses a growing system of electronic message signs, video cameras and highway advisory radios along interstate highways to give travelers timely information on road conditions, incidents and detours.

For details on protecting your home and family during a winter storm, call Judkins at 923-2110.