Polar vortexes and other winter storms can have a big impact on the region. The one last winter all but froze things to a halt in Northern Virginia. This most recent one brought in record breaking temperatures going as far back as the 1930s in some areas in the region.
No one is making firm predictions if any more polar vortexes will plague the area this year or how much snowfall one would bring if it did show up, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting that the Eastern Seaboard will see heavier than usual precipitation this year. And while heavier precipitation doesn’t necessarily mean snow, snow removal will certainly be on peoples’ minds as we move into the winter months.
The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for clearing public roads in Prince William County. According to its website, VDOT is ready with 340,000 tons of salt, 95,000 tons of sand and 576,000 gallons of liquid treatment and more than 4,000 trucks and plows to push into service in Northern Virginia when the snow comes this winter.
VDOT prioritizes the roads and clears the main ones with high traffic volumes, such as interstate highways, main thoroughfares and high-volume roads leading into neighborhoods first, but the department’s stated goal is to make all roads passable within 48 hours of the storm’s end. VDOT does not clear snow from sidewalks or trails.
While there is no legal requirement in Prince William County to do so, residents and businesses are encouraged to remove snow from sidewalks, if they are able. “We ask that people clear snow from their sidewalks so that there is a safe place for people to walk. Otherwise, children and other pedestrians end up walking in the street, which is not a safe alternative,” said Prince William County spokeswoman Nikki Brown.
The Prince William County Fire Marshal’s Office asks people to “adopt” a fire hydrant. Firefighters need to be able to find hydrants quickly when there’s a fire that needs putting out. Fire and Rescue asks that people remove snow around the hydrant to make it visible during big storms. It’s also helpful to place to place 4-foot, orange-tipped, 1-by-2-inch stakes in front of the hydrant or spray paint “fire hydrant” on the snow in front of the hydrant with brightly colored paint.
The main thing to remember, according to Brown, is to be safe. “We want people to always consider safety first. If the roads are bad, and you can stay where you are at, then do so. This allows the snow plows to do their jobs. Or get where you need to be before the weather gets bad.”
People who are interested in the progress of snow removal in their neighborhoods can go to vdotplows.org
to keep up with the latest in the clearing action.