VDOT, AEP gear up for winter weather heading to Southwest Virginia

The few days leading up to Christmas are said to be the busiest during the holiday travel season. That, paired with the threat of cold and ice, could make driving even more difficult.

The Virginia Department of Transportation said their crews are working to pre-treat the roads with brine ahead of the chilly weather.

“That is a water and salt solution that we put out ahead of a storm. Up to 48 hours before a winter weather event. Now that brine solution should help the ice and snow from bonding to those major road surfaces,” Jason Bond, VDOT Spokesperson said.

Bond wants to remind drivers that the brine can only be used on major roadways, including 581, I-81, and 460. Only certain roads can handle large quantities of salt.

“Those routes will have that pre-treatment on there. That should help with the ice starting to form but drivers still need to be careful,” Bond said.

If the ice does start to form, VDOT can’t plow it, so they plan to put down other chemicals to make driving as safe as possible.

“We will put out abrasives, sand, crushed stone and put down salt depending on the temperatures maybe some other Calcium Chloride or other chemicals depending on how cold it is,” Bond said.

Appalachian Power said if power outages do occur, they’re ready. However, since their entire coverage area is expected to be hit by the storm, they have all hands on deck with very few to spare.

“Right now we have everyone on standby as a wait-and-see to see where the most heavily impacted areas are. If one area gets less impacted than the other, then we will transition those crews to that heavily impacted area to help out,” George Porter, Appalachian Power Spokesperson said.

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport officials said they’re also keeping an eye on the weather forecast for holiday travelers.

“We are in holiday travel mode. So we have a lot of people flying and it is hitting the whole East Coast. So everyone needs to be prepared. As I always say the number one source of information is your airline,” Mike Stewart, Executive Director for Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport said.

There are some delays and cancellations expected, but we’re told they won’t know until 24 hours before a flight. Some airlines have started posting travel waivers for passengers to rebook without charging fees or fare increases.

About the Authors:

Alli Graham came aboard the digital team as an evening digital content producer in June 2022.

Brittany Wier joined the 10 News team as the morning reporter in August 2021.