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Ice, rain expected today
Weather advisory in effect
Friday, March 7, 2014
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
A winter weather advisory is in effect for the area until noon today due to the likelihood of freezing rain mixed with sleet and snow.
The precipitation was expected to arrive Thursday night and continue through midday today, according to the advisory, issued by the National Weather Service office in Blacksburg.
Expect a tenth of an inch or less of ice, with as much as an inch of snow and sleet, meteorologists said.
That is enough to create hazardous driving conditions. The weather service predicted that roads — and especially bridges and overpasses — will become slick.
David Kiser, assistant residency administrator at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) office in Bassett Forks, said road crews were to start applying sand and salt to local roads around 7 p.m. Thursday. They are to be on the roads “until everything clears up” today, he said.
Martinsville Public Works Director Jeff Joyce said city crews planned to put salt down when precipitation started falling.
There was the potential for the precipitation to start as rain, and if that was the case and city streets were pretreated, the rain would wash the salt away before the freezing precipitation arrived, Joyce said.
In Henry and Patrick counties, VDOT focuses its attention first on primary roads — those numbered 600 and below — because they have the most traffic, Kiser said. Examples include U.S. 220, U.S. 58 and Virginia 57.
Secondary roads, numbered 600 and above, are treated after primary roads are in the best shape possible, followed by residential streets, Kiser said.
City crews generally focus first on trouble spots such as the hill on Liberty Street behind Liberty Fair Mall, and then they move to major highways such as Memorial and Commonwealth boulevards before treating residential streets and parking lots, according to Joyce.
VDOT and city crews have enough salt on hand to handle this round of wintry precipitation, despite a shortage of the substance nationwide.
The city’s salt supply got “pretty slim” after the recent storm that dumped about 14 inches of snow on the area, Joyce said. However, 100 tons of salt recently came in and another 100 tons have been ordered, he said.
Kiser said VDOT has ordered more salt for the local stockpiles and although “it’s coming in slowly,” he expects it will be received soon. He said enough is on hand to deal with any precipitation that occurs through today.
The precipitation is due to a low-pressure system moving from the Gulf of Mexico to off the Southeast coast this morning as arctic high pressure over Canada keeps the region cold, according to the weather service.
Temperatures were forecast to drop to around 30 degrees during the overnight hours.
Today’s high temperature is expected to reach about 43 degrees before dropping to around 32 — the freezing point — tonight.
The good news is that the weekend and the following couple of days should be warmer, with highs in the 60s and lows no colder than 35 degrees, the forecast showed.
A reminder: Daylight Saving Time will start at 2 a.m. Sunday, so set your clocks one hour ahead before going to bed Saturday night.