Last-minute snow preparation

Published 2:51 pm Friday, January 6, 2017

With a winter storm warning in effect for the area beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, Suffolk’s Department of Public Works has been working to prepare the city’s roads for a blanket of snow.

Meteorologists from the National Weather Service were predicting that snow would begin around 10 p.m. Friday, with a little less than an inch by 1 a.m. and snow coming heavier into the morning hours.

The weather service’s forecast warned of “near blizzard conditions” Saturday morning in Virginia Beach and Currituck County, N.C., as the storm heads into the area from the south-southwest.

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The service’s snow accumulation predictions have consistently risen through the week and continued to do so on Friday, with forecasters saying at 1:40 p.m. that Southeast Virginia and Northeast North Carolina should expect the greatest accumulation — six to 12 inches “on average.”

In preparation for the weather, Public Works crews started applying a brine solution to roads, bridges and overpasses before dawn on Friday, according to Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink.

The liquid sodium chloride solution helps “prevent the formation or development of bonded snow and ice on the road surface,” Klink stated in a press release Friday afternoon.

The brine also helps roads get back to normal faster, reduces airborne dust and salt and gives a boost to the melting process, she stated.

By putting the brine down early, crews were able to get a head start on the storm, she stated, noting that the solution tends to persist on the roads longer than salt or sand.

The Virginia Department of Transportation office in Suffolk announced Friday afternoon that 23 VDOT trucks and 44 contractor trucks from Staunton, Salem, Culpeper and Northern Virginia were headed to Hampton Roads to assist Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Portsmouth with reinforcements for their own crews.

Suffolk does not partner with VDOT on road maintenance of city roads.

Klink stated that the city’s efforts to prepare for the storm would continue “right up until the snow conditions make pretreatment ineffective.”

Public Works employees will be on 12-hour shifts “throughout this weather event,” she stated, noting that Suffolk has 25 plows and spreaders that will all be in operation around the clock until cleanup is complete, starting “once the snow level is sufficient for the plow blade to be effective (usually at about 1-1/2 inches).”

Primary roads will get first priority, she stated, followed by secondary roads. Neighborhood roads, if they are serviced at all by snowplows, will probably not be plowed for at least a couple of days after the storm has passed.

Residents have been asked to avoid driving as much as possible and to not park their vehicles on the side of the road, as doing so can impede the movement of snow plows.

Check here for updates throughout the weekend.