A quick-hitting storm system was expected to bring up to 3 inches of snow, gusty winds and bitterly cold temperatures to the Dan River Region.
The National Weather Service in Blacksburg placed Danville and Pittsylvania County under a winter weather advisory from 4 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.
Potentially starting as a rain, forecasters said the precipitation would become all snow by midnight when the temperature dips to the lower 20s.
“For our region this will be a relatively quick event, with snow falling and moving east within a 12-hour period for most,” Blacksburg meteorologists wrote in a Friday morning forecast discussion. “More concerning than the snow will be the wind and resultant wind chills.”
As a system steers toward the East Coast, an Arctic air mass will merge and trigger a low pressure system to form along the coast. That could trigger blizzard conditions in areas like the Delmarva Peninsula, New Jersey and New England on Saturday into Sunday.
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“The higher elevations will see snow longer and will subsequently see higher amounts; alternately lower amounts will be possible at lower elevations where more rain falls,” the Blacksburg discussion said of snowfall for the area.
Up to 3 inches of snow is possible before Saturday morning. That’s when gusty winds will emerge for the area. Saturday’s high is expected to remain below freezing.
The weather service warns even a light coating of snow coupled with the frigid conditions will make travel hazardous. The Virginia Department of Transportation also reported roads — especially overpasses, ramps, crossovers and bridges — could become slick and icy.
In Danville, crews started pretreating major roads, bridges and overpasses with a solution of salt and water Thursday, city spokesperson Arnold Hendrix reported. When the water evaporates, salt is left behind in an effort to break the bond between snow and road.
Danville Public Works vehicles have snowplows mounted and are ready for 12-hour shifts.
“Crews begin plowing major thoroughfares when an inch of snow accumulates on street surfaces,” Hendrix said in an email. “Residents and visitors are urged to avoid travel once snow begins.”
VDOT also is asking residents to not venture out when the snow starts to fall. However, those who must travel should take care to maintain a safe speed and increase their distance from other vehicles.
“Keep in mind, we will continue to see a risk of refreeze on roadways — possibly for several days — as temperatures fluctuate and snow and ice melt, then freeze again,” Len Stevens, a spokesperson for VDOT’s Lynchburg district, the area that covers the Dan River Region.
In the event of power outages caused by the snow and heavy winds, Danville Utilities crews will be in standby mode, Hendrix said. If large-scale electrical disruptions occur, crews will work staggered 16-hour shifts.
Danville residents or visitors who need shelter may call the city of Danville’s non-emergency number at 434-799-5111 and press option 8.
On Thursday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared as state of emergency ahead of the incoming storm system.