Heavy snow expected

Published 9:11 am Friday, January 29, 2010

FRANKLIN—A winter storm could dump a foot of snow in Western Tidewater this weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

The entire region is under a winter storm watch from this evening through late Saturday night. Snow is expected to begin falling late this evening and continue into the day Saturday.

“The main batch of snow will be during the daytime Saturday,” said Chris Wamsley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wakefield. He said the snow would begin to taper off Saturday evening into early Sunday morning.

Wamsley said snowfall totals would vary across the region.

“Some areas may get a foot and some areas may get under 8 inches,” he said.

“This will be primarily a wet snow,” Wamsley said, which could weigh down power lines and cause power failures.

According to Wamsley, the last time the Franklin area received a snowfall comparable was in February 2003, when 6 to 10 inches fell.

Frigid temperatures are also expected over the weekend. In Franklin, the National Weather Service is forecasting a high temperature of 28 degrees Saturday and a low of 19. On Sunday, the forecast calls for a high of 34 degrees and a low of 11.

On Thursday, Gov. Bob McDonnell declared a state of emergency, authorizing state agencies to assist local governments responding to the potential winter storm.

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. State agencies are getting ready for the storm by taking actions, including:

The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has held weather conference calls with the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.

The Virginia Department of State Police and the Department of Transportation are preparing to keep roadways clear and assist motorists.

The Virginia National Guard has placed 200 soldiers on standby.

The Virginia Emergency Operations Center will bring in a small number of response team members beginning tonight. By Saturday morning, a larger group from several state agencies, major utilities and other affiliated organizations will be in place.

Virginians in the affected areas can prepare for the storm by having an emergency kit in their home and vehicle that includes water, food, a battery-powered radio, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries. Also, citizens should monitor news outlets for updates on this developing storm, and check road conditions before they leave home by calling 511 or logging in to 511Virginia.org. In areas where significant snowfall occurs, Virginians are encouraged to stay off the roads until the storm abates and roads are cleared.