LIVE STORM BLOG: Blizzard Warning issued; whiteout conditions expected on Southside

Up to a foot of snow is possible in areas of Hampton Roads from Wednesday night into Thursday afternoon.

VIRGINIA BEACH — Your Southside Daily team is tracking the Winter Storm moving into Southeast Virginia this week, which is expected to bring heavy snowfall along with it.

Blizzard Warning: Take Action!

A Blizzard Warning is in effect for our area through Thursday afternoon.

Areas Affected:

Hampton, Poquoson; Northampton; Norfolk/Portsmouth; Chesapeake and Virginia Beach

What this Means: A Blizzard Warning means severe winter weather conditions are expected or occurring. Falling and blowing snow with strong winds and poor visibilities are likely. This will lead to whiteout  conditions, making travel extremely dangerous.

Do not travel. If you must travel, have a winter survival kit with you.

Full Coverage: Blizzard warning in the Southside; potential for a foot of snow

If you get stranded, stay with your vehicle. The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can be obtained by calling 5 1 1.

Total snow accumulations of 5 to 8 inches are expected with locally higher amounts up to 12 inches.

Winds gusting as high as 50 mph will cause whiteout conditions in blowing snow. Significant drifting of the snow is likely, according to the National Weather Service in Wakefield.

Check your Southside Daily Forecast

Winter Weather Resources:

School Closures & Delays:

  • Virginia Beach City Public Schools will dismiss two hours early on Wednesday and be closed Thursday.
  • Norfolk Public Schools have canceled after-school events and activities on Wednesday.
  • Chesapeake Public Schools have canceled all after-school activities Wednesday.
  • Newport News Schools have canceled all after-school activities and athletic events Wednesday.
  • Suffolk Public Schools have cancelled all afternoon and evening activities on Wednesday.
  • Hampton City Schools have cancelled all after-school activities on Wednesday.
  • Tidewater Community College will close at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, and will be closed on Thursday. 

Further delays and closures are expected — refresh this page and check back often for the latest updates

Winter Weather Driving Tips

As Southeast Virginia faces the threat of ice and snow to start 2018, motorists are being urged to be prepared.

“Being prepared for the storm and knowing how to drive properly on slick or icy roads can make all the difference when precipitation starts to fall,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia. “AAA urges motorists to have a winter weather kit in their car which can help free the vehicle when stuck, warn the other motorists and keep the driver and passenger safe and warm.”

What to pack in your winter weather driving kit:

  • Blanket
  • Ice scraper
  • Flares/reflective triangles
  • Flash light (with extra batteries)
  • Jumper cables
  • Bag of abrasive material such as cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Cloth or paper towels
  • Cell phone with a full charge.

AAA is also reminding motorists of basic safety tips for driving in wintry conditions. 

Drivers are advised to heed the following tips:

  • Increase following distance – Increase your following distance to at least 10 seconds to allow yourself time in the event you or the car in front of you loses control. The stopping distance required on ice at zero degrees Fahrenheit is twice the amount required at thirty-two degrees.
  • Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses – Bridges and overpasses freeze first and melt last. Therefore, use extra caution as the roadway leading up to the bridge may appear fine but the bridge itself could be a sheet of ice.
  • Accelerate slowly – Traction is the greatest just before the wheel starts to spin; therefore accelerating slowly will increase your grip on the road.
  • Ease off the gas pedal – If your tires begin to slip or you begin to skid, ease off the gas pedal until you regain control of the vehicle.
  • Brake slowly and gently – Slamming on the brakes on ice covered roads dramatically increases your risk of losing control of your vehicle.
  • Control the skid – In the event you find your car is skidding, ease off of the accelerator or brake, and steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go.
  • Never use cruise control – Cruise control is not recommended to use when pavement is wet or ice is on the road as the driver should be in full control of the vehicle at every second.
  • Drive in cleared lanes – Changing lanes unnecessarily puts you at greater risk of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.

Precautions to Protect Household Water and Irrigation Systems from Freezing

With unusually low temperatures forecasted to continue for the next several days, Tidewater residents are advised to take precautions to protect their irrigation and household water systems from freezing.

Brunswick County Public Utilities offered these tips to protect your home:

  • Exposed backflow assemblies for irrigation systems should be removed or adequately insulated.
  • Exposed water lines to fixtures, such as outside showers, should be isolated and drained. Pour a small amount of RV/Marine antifreeze (Prestone, Peak, or equivalent) into drains/toilets that may be subject to freezing. Do not use standard automotive antifreeze/coolant.
  • Exposed water lines in open crawl spaces should be adequately insulated.
  • Turn off irrigation systems to avoid creating icy sidewalks and driveways.
  • If your water lines do freeze, please be careful when thawing the lines. Do not apply excessive heat which may damage pipes or cause a fire. Heating devices with open flames should not be used. Electric heaters and heat tape should be powered through a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter in case the device comes into contact with standing or spraying water.

Tips to Keep Pets Safe as Temperatures Drop

With area temperatures taking a significant drop over the next few days, pets living outside are facing deadly weather conditions. Especially when forecasted temperatures consistently drop far below freezing at night.

“A good rule of thumb is that if it is too cold for you outside or cold enough to be uncomfortable without a winter coat, then it is too cold for your pet – even outdoor pets,” said Darci VanderSlik, Heritage Humane Society communications manager. “This weather is different than if we lived in a place where it gradually became cold and pets had a chance to acclimate and build up winter coats. With a dramatic temperature drop, the change is a shock to pets as well.”

The Heritage Humane Society offered these tips for getting pets through the next 72+ hours:

  • Bring all pets indoors, even outdoor pets, with only short trips outside to relieve themselves.
  • If bringing a pet inside is not an option, add straw to their shelter to provide warmth and insulation. It is required by law that pets have a shelter regardless of the weather.
  • Since this will be a brief cold spell, adding wool or synthetic blankets to the shelter is a decent option if straw is not available. Do not use cotton as it retains moisture instead of wicking it away which can make the pet colder.
  • By law, if the pet remains outside, it must have access to drinkable water at all times. The water will freeze and it will freeze frequently. So make sure that their water is replenished every few hours. Licking iced-over water is not going to keep a pet properly hydrated.
  • By law, the shelter must be at least 6″ off the ground, have 3 sides, a roof and a flap to protect the pet from the elements
  • If the pet remains outside, a diet with extra protein is recommended.  

See the latest updates from local emergency operations centers, school districts and resident reaction to the storm:

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