Officials urge residents to stay off roads

Stay off the roads. That’s the warning being issued by police and transportation officials today as a monster of a winter storm blankets the East Coast.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley has over a foot of snow with more on the way.

“Winds have now picked up causing snow to drift and pile up across interstates and primary routes, which make driving even more dangerous. State police ask Virginians to remain patient one more day until the storm has moved out and roads are cleared…and safe for travel,” Corinne N. Geller,  spokesperson for the state police, stated in a news release this morning.

The Virginia Department of Transportation reports that while plow drivers are working around the clock, driving conditions remain dangerous.

“The Virginia Department of Transportation warns against non-emergency travel. The 11-county VDOT Staunton District has received 12 to 18 inches of snowfall, and additional accumulation is expected throughout the day,” a release issued this morning states.

Interstate 81 truck stops are full and to keep tractor-trailers from blocking the interstate VDOT has closed several off ramps from the interstate.  On-ramps are open.

Here are the I-81 off-ramps in Frederick and Shenandoah counties that are closed:

• Exit 323 in Clear Brook:  northbound and southbound.
• Exit 291 in Toms Brook:  northbound and southbound.

A winter storm warning is in effect through 6 a.m. Sunday.  The National Weather Service predicts up to 2 feet of accumulation of snow today.

“Heavy snow and blowing snow will cause dangerous conditions and will be a threat to life and property,” according to the weather service. “Travel is expected to be severely limited if not impossible during the height of the storm this afternoon … visibility will be reduced to near zero at times in whiteout conditions.”

The weather service reports temperatures will be in the low 20s and winds will be out of the north at 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 35 mph.