Valley bracing for the storm

Doug Bowen, manager of the Ramsey True Value Hardware Store in Front Royal, sorts through bags of salt outside the store on North Royal Avenue on Wednesday. The weather forecast calls for heavy snow on Thursday. Rich Cooley/Daily

The National Weather Service has placed the entire Northern Shenandoah Valley under a winter storm warning from 10 p.m. today through 7 p.m. Thursday.

Although it will begin as rain this evening, wintry precipitation from this system is expected to start between midnight and 3 a.m., according to meteorologist Matt Elliot.

“Sometime in that time frame, we’ll first start getting some sleet before it changes over,” Elliot noted.

The snowstorm is expected to bring 8-10 inches of accumulation to northern portions of Shenandoah County as well as Warren, Clarke, Frederick counties and Winchester.

Elliot explained that areas to the south might see between 6-8 inches because those areas “might have more sleet for a little bit longer.”

Michael Guiliani, an associate at Ramsey True Value Hardware Store in Front Royal, carries a load of plastic sleds into the store on Wednesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

“I expect it to change over from sleet fairly quickly out there,” Elliot said, adding that once the snow starts it will be steady throughout the day.

Despite any accumulation total, Elliot said the primary concern for residents should be the road conditions.

“Six to 8 inches and and 8 to 10 inches [of snow] are going to cause very similar conditions,” he said, “So I don’t recommend any travel at all.”

Similar to other recent winter weather events, the Virginia Department of Transportation is gearing up for the worst.

VDOT is preparing for the snow with close to 900 pieces of equipment. Ken Slack, a VDOT spokesperson, said the rain preceding the snowstorm will prevent VDOT crews from pretreating the roads.

“Beginning overnight, we will stage crews in many areas in our district and they’ll be ready to start plowing and treating as soon as the snow begins to fall,” Slack said.

Slack said VDOT crews will be out in full force.

“We will be out for a number of different reasons,” Slack said. “We’re expecting single-digit temperatures on Thursday night and we’re going to be pushing hard to clear the roads before that hard freeze.”

For the safety of plow drivers and road crews, VDOT is recommending people avoid driving during the storm, Slack said.

“We’re going to be pushing hard to get these roads clear and the more room our drivers have to do their work, the better it is for everybody,” Slack said. “We certainly would advise folks to delay travel, maybe work from home, if that’s the case.”

Slack added, “There’s a good possibility for this storm to create slippery conditions during the morning, afternoon and evening commutes, so if folks don’t have to drive, then we certainly hope they’ll sit this one out.”

Temperatures on Friday will not help, as the low between Thursday night and Friday morning is expected to be 4 degrees.

The high for Friday is expected to be 30 degrees, with a frigid overnight low of 10 degrees.

The good news for area residents is that the weekend outlook has mostly clear skies and high temperatures between 45 and 50 degrees.

Visit Twitter.com @nvdaily and nvdaily.com/weather for the latest updates.

Contact staff writer Henry Culvyhouse at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or hculvyhouse@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com