Weather update: School closings piling up as Virginia braces for big storm
RICHMOND (AP) — The latest on the recent storm and heavy snowfall expected to hit Virginia (all times local):
With up to 2 feet or snow forecast for parts of Virginia, schools closings are piling up by the hour.
Public schools in Shenandoah, Warren and Frederick counties have announced they will be closed on Friday.
In the Richmond area alone, schools in the capital city and Petersburg and Colonial Heights are closed Friday, as are schools in the surrounding suburbs of Chesterfield, Goochland, Henrico, Hanover and New Kent counties.
Farther afield, schools closing Friday also include Amelia and Buckingham counties.
School closings have also been announced in areas likely to see the greatest snowfall, such as the cities of Charlottesville and Lynchburg.
College and universities are also canceling classes. They include VCU and Liberty University, among others.
The Virginia General Assembly is taking Friday off to avoid the upcoming winter storm.
The Senate and House canceled committee hearings and floor sessions for Friday.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe has issued a state of emergency for the storm. Heavy snow is projected around the state, including up to 2 feet or more of snow in some places.
The Virginia National Guard says it has been authorized to use up to 500 soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force to respond to the upcoming winter storm.
The Guard says in a statement that it plans to set up readiness centers along the Interstate 81 corridor between Lexington and Winchester, along state Route 29 from Warrenton to Danville, as well as near Richmond, Fredericksburg and Gate City.
Guard director of joint operations Col. Thomas L. Morgan III says personnel will be place before the storm hits in order to be able to respond when needed.
Morgan says the Guard will be unable to respond to direct requests from the public for help. The Guard will be summoned through the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to assist State Police, the Virginia Department of Transportation and other state and local emergency response organizations.
The Virginia Department of Transportation says it is in “full deployment mode” for the fearsome winter storm heading to the Mid-Atlantic.
VDOT said it has about 2,500 crews and more than 13,000 pieces of equipment at the ready. Besides plows and spreaders, the department said supplies include more than 650,000 tons of salt, sand and abrasives, as well as nearly 2 million gallons of liquid salt.
When the storm hits Friday, VDOT said crews will clear interstates and primary roads first. Next in line are secondary roads, particularly those with heavy traffic.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is reminding residents that the state’s price gouging statute is in effect as a winter storm bears down on the state.
Among the items covered by the statute are water, food, generators, hotel rooms and tree removal services.
Enacted in 2004, the statute prohibits a supplier from charging “unconscionable prices” for necessary goods and services during the 30-day period following a declared state of emergency.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has issued a state of emergency for the upcoming winter storm.
Thursday’s declaration authorizes state agencies to assist local governments in response to the storm, which is expected to dump up to 2 feet of snow in parts of the state and bring strong winds.
McAuliffe says in a statement that residents should “take the threat of this storm seriously.” He says that includes travel disruptions and possible power outages.
He says transportation crews are treating roads before the storm hits.
Virginia Transportation Secretary Aubrey Layne is urging residents to stay off roads until the storm passes.
A blizzard watch is in effect for portions of Virginia.
The National Weather Service says the watch area stretches from Fredericksburg to the Washington, D.C. suburbs. Those areas could get up to 2 feet of snow along with strong winds and whiteout conditions on Friday night and Saturday.
Most other areas of the state could see from a foot to 20 inches of snow. That includes Charlottesville, Harrisonburg, Roanoke and Richmond.
Norfolk and other coastal areas are expected to see mostly rain and steady wind gusts.
Virginia State Police were busy answering calls to hundreds traffic accidents after the latest winter storm clipped the state.
Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says State Police responded to 767 crashes statewide over a 24-hour period ending early Thursday.
She says that as of 6 a.m. Thursday, State Police were on the scene of 33 accidents, including 24 in northern Virginia.
Geller says two troopers were involved in accidents.
A trooper at an accident scene on Interstate 495 in Fairfax County was struck by a van that swerved to avoid a car. The trooper was taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
And another trooper at a crash site on I-95 in Prince William County was uninjured when his