The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Watch for the City of Suffolk and surrounding areas this morning covering from Friday evening through Saturday afternoon. The watch calls for possible heavy snow with accumulations of 2 to 4 inches possible. Winds could gust as high as 35 miles per hour.
Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency today, Thursday, January 27, 2022, in anticipation of a winter storm arriving tomorrow affecting several regions of the Commonwealth. At this time, forecasts indicate that while this will be a statewide event, areas along the coastline will experience the largest impacts. Heavy wet snow along with high winds are predicted which poses a threat for downed trees, electrical outages, and major impacts to travel. In addition, there is also the threat of tidal flooding.
The City’s Office of Emergency Management is coordinating with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and National Weather Service to monitor weather forecasts. City staff are preparing ahead of the storm for potential impacts to roadways and necessary emergency responses.
At this time, Public Works staff are prepping equipment and stocking materials. Pretreating in this storm will most likely require the use of sand and abrasives as any other materials will wash away due to rainfall which would precede the snow tomorrow night. As the snow starts, staff will spread salt and sand to get a base layer down under the snow. The pretreating will be on our primary and most significant collector roadways. Staffing will consist of a lead 8 hour shift from 4 p.m. Friday until midnight which will be pretreating in the rain and continuing to treat roadways as conditions turn to ice/snow. 24 hour a day, 12 hour shifts will begin at midnight Friday into Saturday morning to begin addressing the spreading and plowing operations. These shifts are expected to run as noted though Sunday night/Monday morning.
As a reminder, the Roadway Division of Public Works is responsible for clearing snow and ice from Suffolk public streets. The primary purpose of snow removal is to clear snow for emergency vehicles, hospital access, and service vehicles such as school buses, public transit buses and refuse trucks.
With safety and emergency accessibility being the primary concerns, the first priority is given to all primary or main roadways, followed by secondary arterials and connectors. Neighborhood streets are cleared last and, due to the size of the equipment, configuration of neighborhood streets and the presence of cars parked on the street, may not be accessible by City plows. An interactive map of the City’s priority routes for public paved roadways within the City can be viewed online: https://suffolkva.maps.arcgis.com/apps/PublicInformation/index.html?appid=159217ab90c34c8da06e5a9207fea2af. Please note that removal timeframes and priority are subject to change with weather conditions.
When it becomes necessary to operate snowplows, residents can assist in the efficiency of snow removal by doing the following:
--Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary; if you must travel, please drive cautiously and slowly, removing all snow and ice from the whole vehicle before driving
--Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles
--Stay back and avoid passing snowplows; snow or abrasive can come from the plow while operating
--Avoid parking on streets when snow or ice is predicted
--Shovel sidewalks as soon as possible after storm; however, avoid shoveling snow from driveways or sidewalks into the roadway
--Clear snow around fire hydrants; firefighters will be able to respond more quickly in the event of an emergency.
To report roadway issues, citizens can contact Public Works at 757-514-7600, 24/7 during and after the storm until normal operations resume.
For afterhours requests for emergency Public Utilities Services, call 757-514-7000 (broken water pipes, etc.)