CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice has declared a State of Emergency in all 55 counties in West Virginia ahead of a forecasted winter storm. Crews in the West Virginia Department of Transportation’s Division of Highways (WVDOH) are ready to treat the roads and help keep motorists safe during the holiday weekend.
The National Weather Service in Charleston said an arctic front will blast through the state late Thursday night and Friday morning causing a rapid temperature plunge and rain changing to a burst of heavy snow. The forecasted winter weather means it’ll likely be a white Christmas around the Mountain State.
“We remained prepared for a winter storm,” Jimmy Wriston, Secretary of the West Virginia Department of Transportation said. “We conduct dry runs in October. We are fully stocked on salt and abrasives. Our trucks have been prepped for months and we are as ready as we can be for this upcoming storm.”
Justin Smith, WVDOH District Engineer for District 3 said in wintry conditions motorists should slow down, stay back at least 100 feet from snowplows, and ‘don’t crowd the plow,’ and use common sense.
Smith said his district, which consists of Calhoun, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Wirt, and Wood counties, and its workers are on alert for the weather. He said workers are flexible based on the size of the district.
“There is a series of callouts that they’ll be standing ready for so we’ll be prepared for it when the storm comes,” Smith said.
“We also have people out on the highways at all times looking for situations.”
Tony Clark, WVDOH District Engineer for District 6 said his employees in Brooke, Hancock, Marshall, Ohio, Tyler, and Wetzel counties will be out no matter the date on the calendar.
“Our employees are dedicated,” Clark said. “They will respond as needed.”
Lee Thorne, WVDOH District Engineer for District 5 echoed Clark’s statement about the dedication of WVDOH drivers. District 5 covers Berkeley, Grant, Hampshire, Hardy, Jefferson, Mineral, and Morgan counties.
“We have a lot of dedicated employees ready to serve the public,” Thorne said.
There are approximately 1,080 SRIC trucks mounted with snow-fighting equipment around the state belonging to the WVDOH. Over the past two winter seasons, WVDOH crews have used an average of 250,000 tons of salt and 1.3 million gallons of de-icing liquid (salt brine) to clear the roads.
“We are currently making sure our equipment and crews are ready for bad weather this weekend as well as the rest of the winter,” Arlie Matney, WVDOH District Engineer for District 1 said.
“Our men and women are willing and ready to go out and keep the roads safe for the traveling public,” Matney continued. “I would like to think that making our roads safe is our Christmas present to all motorists traveling in West Virginia.”
All roads maintained by the WVDOH fit into one of four priorities. The Interstate, Expressway, National Highway System, and all other United States and West Virginia routes are Priority 1 routes in a Snow Removal and Ice Control strategy.
Some Priority 1 routes also include high-traffic county routes. Priority 2 routes are all other school bus routes that are not considered Priority 1. Priority 3 routes are the remaining routes, not including park and forest routes. Priority 4 routes are park and forest routes.
For the latest updates and information on travel conditions throughout West Virginia, visit wv511.org.