VDOT concerned about overnight snow on below-freezing roads

FAIRFAX, VA. -- The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is preparing for snowfall in Northern Virginia overnight that could cause issues on the roads because of the cold temperatures this week.

Around 800 snow plows will be out treating roads with salt and sand.

Ellen Kamilakis, a spokesperson with VDOT, said the agency is more concerned with the dusting of snow expected overnight than they would be for 10-inches of snow because temperatures have been below freezing for the past week.

"When you’re driving on the road and you have the tires and the friction, there’s a certain amount of heat that’s generated and that is going to melt things that are coming down, but when the pavement temperatures are as a cold as they will, it will automatically freeze," added Kamilakis. "So, imagine it's a bunch of snowflakes coming down, hitting the ground, a tire running over them, melting, and then freezing into ice instead of staying a powder."

Kamilakis said when it was warm enough, VDOT crews had been pretreating the roads with a brine solution to help melt the ice.

She added once the snow starts falling VDOT is urging drivers to stay off the roads, if possible, until midday Saturday when the sun comes out and warms up the roads.

"But if you are going to be on the roads take it very very slow. There is absolutely no strategy to driving on the ice other than not driving on the ice," added Kamilakis.

She said those who do drive should take extra precautions on bridges, ramps, and overpasses, and "other known trouble spots".

"Turn lanes as well because the turn lanes get a lot less movement on them so they stay colder than the main lines," added Kamilakis. She said drivers should also ensure their gas tanks and windshield wiper fluid tanks are full and to always use their headlights.