Snow expected again

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

If all went according to the weatherman’s plan, residents of Suffolk should be waking up to a snowy landscape and potentially dangerous roadways this morning. On Wednesday, the forecasters predicted rain and snow showers for this morning with about two inches of the white stuff covering the city.

Suffolk Emergency Management Coordinator Captain James T. Judkins said computer models projected anywhere from one to six inches, depending on which area of the city you look at.

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&uot;The winter storm watch began late last night and runs through this afternoon, with accumulations of two to four inches across the city,&uot; said Judkins. &uot;We’ll have a winter weather advisory in effect from 3 a.m. Thursday until 6 p.m.&uot;

He said the snow may mix with rain today, causing slushy snow accumulations of one to two inches by the time the precipitation ends this evening.

Judkins added that motorist in the city should remain alert to changing weather conditions and take necessary precautions if travel is necessary.

Sandy Shortridge, of the Virginia Department of Transportation’s (VDOT) Suffolk Residency, said the agency is ready through the Hampton Roads region with more than 275 pieces of equipment ready for snow removal.

&uot;Our equipment includes dump trucks with plows and/or spreaders, and loaders and graders, and our inventory of salt, sand and abrasives was restocked after the first snow and is at peak level, so we’re ready for more snow,&uot; said Shortridge. &uot;In Hampton Roads, VDOT has about 17,000 tons of salt, nearly 22,000 tons of sand and over 6,000 tons of abrasives on hand and ready.&uot;

Shortridge said that across the Commonwealth, VDOT has a snow preparation and removal budget of $80 million for this winter season. About $48 million statewide has been spent already for snow preparation and removal this season.

As for driving in the snow, ice and slush, VDOT’s Emergency Operation Center monitors storms through a statewide information system and is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

&uot;Travelers may get current road condition reports from VDOT via computer or telephone,&uot; said Shortridge. &uot;A winter weather road condition map is available at VDOT’s Web site, During a storm, color-coded maps are updated every 10 minutes showing roads that are snow-covered, icy or wet.&uot;

Motorists can also call VDOT’s Highway Helpline at 800-367-ROAD for road conditions across the state. Drivers may also receive information from each of the bridge and tunnel facilities by calling the 640-0055 or 800-792-2800, and drivers can tune into 610 AM for road updates.

Suffolk Public Schools Information Officer Bethanne Bradshaw said parents should call 925-6750 and listen to the recorded message as to whether schools are open. As she noted, it’s the surest way to know.