Even though the temperatures are unusually high for this time of year and it seems strange to talk about winter weather, people in Northern Virginia know that when the temperature drops it can have a big impact on the region – especially if it involves the "s" word – SNOW.
To start preparing folks for winter weather, the Virginia Department of Transportation, or VDOT, held a briefing about their winter weather preparedness efforts. This is important for those in Prince William County, as VDOT is responsible for maintaining and plowing the majority of the county's roads.
According to Lauren Mollerup, the district maintenance engineer for VDOT, this winter looks like it's shaping up to mirror last year's weather. "We're likely to have a winter, according to the National Weather Service, similar to what we had last year."
Mollerup said VDOT stands ready to round up, load, mobilize and put equipment on standby to prepare for whatever the weather brings to the Northern Virginia region. "We're ready to go with our 4,500 pieces of equipment; so, depending whatever forecast gets thrown at us, we'll mobilize accordingly. We're ready to go for whatever hits us — small or large."
VDOT plows the region's major roadways with the exceptions of a few cities and towns, said Mollerup. "We actually plow all of the interstates, primary and secondary roadways in Northern Virginia. VDOT does most of the primaries, interstates and secondaries in Prince William."
Mollerup said that VDOT begins preparations early when snow is due. Trucks will begin icing the roads a few days in advance of the storm, if the roads aren't colder than 20 degrees and the storm won't begin as rain. "Three to five days before the storm is anticipated to arrive, we'll pretreat with a brine solution, which is a salt and water mix, and we'll treat most of our primary roadways and out interstate roadways, not sub-divisions or residential streets," Mollerup said.
To find out more about VDOT's winter resources and operations, visit www.virginiadot.org.