Utilities, city prep for winter weather

Published 10:39 pm Friday, December 18, 2009

A meteorologist at AccuWeather.com, Joe Bastardi, is calling this weekend’s winter storm the “Pre-Christmas Blizzard of 2009” due to the amount of snow accumulation expected in areas of the mid-Atlantic from Cape Cod all the way through northern and central Virginia.

Although many Suffolk residents may only see between one to three inches of snow Saturday evening, those traveling for an early start to the Christmas holiday week may be in for a long, long trip.

But, for those staying home, Suffolk officials said Friday the city is prepared and has additional crews on hand to address any problems.

“The City Manager (Selena Coffee-Glenn) met with department heads again today. With the current forecast of a coastal flood watch, wind and a chance of snow in this area, city departments are preparing for any weather event,” city spokesperson Debbie George said. “Public Works and Public Safety have equipment and additional personnel on standby.”

George added the city’s media and community relations department will be providing regular updates through the weekend on the through the city’s municipal cable channel, Web site and social media sites.

Dominion Virginia Power said in a release Friday afternoon the company is “prepared to respond to a winter storm expected to roll through much of its service area through Sunday morning.”

Although major outages are not expected in the Hampton Roads area, the company does anticipate heavy snowfall across the state, “which could knock trees and limbs into power lines and create widespread outages. The exact timing and strength of the storm may vary.”

Dominion reminds its customers to call toll free 1-888-667-3000 to report outages or downed lines. The company said the voice-response unit is the quickest way to report an outage or downed power lines.

Dominion also reminded residents of a few safety items for when power is interrupted:

4Turn off major appliances such as heat pumps, water heaters and stoves. Unplug other appliances such as TVs, stereos, microwaves and computers. This will prevent damage to the appliance and possible overloads to the company’s system when power is restored.

4Leave one light on so you will know when power is restored.

4If using portable or camp-type stoves or lanterns for cooking and lighting, ensure that the area is adequately ventilated.

According to early weather forecasts, the weekend nor’easter is expected to blow through the area Saturday, brining much colder air into the area Saturday evening, which will provide the final ingredient for the expected snow.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy McLaurin said Thursday afternoon the system should be out of the area Sunday, allowing the Suffolk area a chance to dry out.