What will Saturday’s winter storm bring? That depends on location

Published 5:11 am Friday, January 5, 2024

One day before the year’s first winter storm is set to arrive, officials with the National Weather Service say parts of our area will see ice and snow. Other parts will be stuck with freezing rain most of the day. 

Buckingham County will catch most of the wintery mix, with freezing rain and sleet expected from midnight until noon on Saturday, especially in Dillwyn and parts north. With a high of only 36, NWS officials out of Wakefield warn that any ice or sleet that melts during the day will freeze later in the afternoon once the temperature drops. 

As for Cumberland and Prince Edward counties, the NWS officials to mainly expect freezing rain. Cumberland could see a “light accumulation of ice and/or snow” in the morning hours, but Prince Edward is expected to just see rain during the day, all of which will freeze as the night goes on. 

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“Not much change in the forecast for the local area with this weekend’s storm,” the NWS Wakefield staff said in a statement. “Expect a period of wintry mix at the onset, with most areas changing to all rain by late morning or early afternoon. Snow is more likely to our west.”

Now that doesn’t mean everything will be clear. The National Weather Service folks caution that as the water turns to ice, it could lead to travel problems, especially on secondary roads. The main roads, including the highways, have been treated. That took place on Thursday. But secondary roads at best could be slick, with some covered in ice.

So before you go to Saturday afternoon’s Hampden-Sydney basketball game, just be sure to check road conditions, which you can do at 511Virginia.org. The same goes before heading out to church on Sunday. We will have details on all closings, cancellations and delays up on the website as soon as we get them. 

Stay inside during winter storm, officials ask

“It’s important to remember that the safest place during a winter storm is indoors,” said Virginia Department of Transportation Chief Deputy Commissioner Cathy McGhee. “When travelers stay off the roads during a winter storm, transportation workers and public-safety officials can clear roads and respond more quickly to emergency needs.”

McGhee said VDOT work crews will be on standby late Friday, ready to go out and clear main roads and bridges as needed. She also explained how the snow and ice removal priorities will work on Saturday. 

“The Interstate Highway System and limited-access roadways are VDOT’s first priority,” McGhee said. 

That’s followed by primary roads, routes numbered up to 599. After all of those are clear, then work crews in the area will start on secondary roads that have public facilities or high-traffic volumes, those numbered from 600 on up. 

After all those are done, then VDOT crews will turn to focus on everything else. 

While lower temperatures will keep some places frozen Sunday morning, that should change by the afternoon, as highs in the upper 40s are expected across the area.