The latest: Dangerous wind chills; hazardous roadways Sunday morning

Daily Press staff

Up to a foot of snow fell across portions of Hampton Roads Saturday as a major storm walloped the region, blocking roads, closing businesses and bringing weekend activity to a standstill.

Now get ready for the deep freeze.

The region remains under a Winter Weather Advisory until 10 a.m. Sunday with morning temperatures in the low teens and wind chills near zero. Winds could gust up to 30 mph, the National Weather Service advisory states. 

Travel is discouraged, but anyone who must drive should expect snow and ice covered roads and blowing snow. 

Temperatures are not expected to climb above 25 degrees Sunday, and gusting winds will make it feel much colder, according Alec Butner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield. Sunday night could see single digits.

The bitter cold could limit the effectiveness of salt and chemicals intended to make roads passable, he said. With the snow not going anywhere soon, school and office closings were already being announced ahead of the work week. Check dailypress.com for an updated list.

Motorists are urged to stay off the roads Sunday as crews from the Virginia Department of Transportation continue their work. Sunny skies could provide a false sense of security, but drifting snow and icy ramps remain a concern, said VDOT spokesman Dave Forster.

Virginia Department of Transportation crews continue to work on treating and plowing roadways Sunday morning. 

Many major roads are still covered with snow, ice and slush, a department news release states.

Drivers are advised to stay off the roads Sunday morning as extremely low overnight temperatures caused icy conditions.

"Use extreme caution if travel is absolutely necessary," the release states.

If you must be out, drivers are advised to take it slow and leave extra room between your vehicle and the one ahead of you. Do not brake suddenly. 

Drivers are also asked to give snow plows and other slow-moving equipment the right of way. 

Previously - Saturday

7:20 p.m. update:

Stuck and disabled vehicles have been the "greatest problem" on highways around the region, according to Virginia State Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller. 

In the last 12 hours, Virginia State Police responded to 120 crashes and 292 disabled cars in the region, Geller said. 

State police have reported one fatality statewide, she said: A SUV ran off the road in Greene County, hitting another car and overturned in a creek. The man died later at the hospital. Police haven't yet released his identity, she said.  

As the snow tapered off Saturday afternoon, temperatures dropped into the teens and already-dangerous roads began to ice over.

The slick conditions will be a serious danger to drivers, especially if the ice is black ice and therefore invisible to drivers, the Virginia State Police warned in a news release Saturday.

The low temperature Saturday night is expected to drop to 10 degrees or below, according to National Weather Service Meteorologist Tim Gingrich. With a high in the mid-20s Sunday, those streets may not thaw very much come morning, either, Gingrich said. 

“Just from the sun it’ll melt some, but it won’t melt as quickly with the temperatures,” Gingrich said. “A lot of icy patches will remain, especially on secondary roads there will be a lot of ice on the streets.”

2 p.m. update:

Newport News Public Works employees were still working on first- and second-level priority streets as of 2 p.m., according to Anita Walters, a spokeswoman for the city.

Priority 1 roads are bridges and overpasses, and priority 2 roads are considered main roads like Jefferson and Warwick.

She noted how state agencies like VDOT are still urging drivers to stay off the roads so that snow plows can get through and do the job.

"It's dangerous for everybody out there," Walters said.

Smaller, priority-three streets haven't been cleaned yet, she said.

Crews are working 12-hour shifts and will be working until 7 p.m., Walters said.

1:30 p.m. update:

The Peninsula has about 9 to 12 inches of snow already on the ground, said National Weather Service meteorologist Alec Butner. Some areas might see a little less or a little more, he said. 

There's light to moderate snow moving through the area, and the region might see 1 or 2 inches more "before it's all said and done," he said, which might be around 5 p.m. 

Freezing temperatures are expected later, which might impede the effects of street salt. 

12 p.m. update: 

Virginia State Police has taken 253 service calls in the last 12 hours, according to spokeswoman Michelle Anaya.  84 of those calls were for crashes, four of which involved injuries, Anaya said. Police helped with 80 property damage calls, and helped over 100 drivers with disabled vehicles, she said. 26 incidents remain open, she said.  No crashes resulted in fatalities, she said.  She emphasized the importance of traveling safely, if at all.  

11:37 a.m. update: A news release from Isle of Wight County Sheriff's Office said that unofficial measurements show close to 6 inches have fallen across the county. 

Lt. Tommy Potter said primary roads are in good shape, but that secondary roads are "treacherous."

Potter said the office has worked four to six weather-related incidents. 

10:29 a.m. update: Hampton Division of Fire & Rescue has responded to 12 calls for service since 5 a.m., five of which were weather-related.

The division tweeted a video of an ambulance being towed along a snow-filled road. 

7:47 a.m. update: The National Weather Service office in Wakefield has measured 5.5 inches of snowfall, as of 7:30 a.m. 

The forecast for the day remains much of the same, said meteorologist Alec Butner. 

"I think we're still on track for pretty much 8 to 12 inches over the Pensinula and Hampton Roads, with maybe lesser amounts closer to coastline in Virginia Beach and down south," Butner said.

A winter storm warning remains in effect for the Peninsula until 10 p.m.

7:12 a.m. update: Virginia State Police responded to 106 accidents and 58 disabled vehicles across the state between midnight and 5 a.m. Saturday. 

According to a news release, in the Chesapeake region, which includes Hampton Roads, VSP investigated 38 traffic accidents, including one with injuries. 

Twelve disabled vehicles were assisted, and another 10 cases are still being worked.

As of 7 a.m., VSP is still on scene at 55 crashes and 21 disabled vehicles across the state.

There have been no reported fatal accidents.

6:39 a.m. update: VDOT continues to warn drivers to stay home, warning that even with treatment and plowing, roads are slick.

A news release states that VDOT employs 2,500 crewmembers and contracts other workers to help clear major interstates and highways during storms.

VDOT has nearly 13,000 pieces of equipment like trucks and snowplows, as well as 650,000 tons of salt and other treatment.

5:56 a.m. update: Hampton Police has responded to nine accidents and three disabled vehicles since 10 p.m. Friday, according to a tweet

VDOT crews continue to work to clear roads which continue to accumulate snow and ice, according to a news release.

Falling temperatures will increase the chance of ice.

Both Hampton Police and VDOT encourage drivers to stay home.

VDOT hopes to have all state-maintained roads and highways passable within 48 hours of the storm ending.

To report a road hazard, call 1-800-FOR-ROAD.

5:24 a.m. update: Weather Underground weather watchers across the Peninsula all see snow continuing and temperatures falling. The highest temperature on the Peninsula at 5:20 is 29 degrees. 

VDOT is focusing on interstates and primary roads and is urging drivers to stay off the roads. 

Speed limit on Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel has been lowered to 45 mph.

3:10 a.m. update: Snow is continuing to fall and Hampton Roads residents shouldn't expect it to let up anytime soon. 

The National Weather Service is still predicting 8 to 12 inches for the region, said meterologist Matt Scalora. 

Snowfall is expected to continue through Saturday morning before slowing down in the afternoon. With temperatures continuing to drop, the road conditions have begun to deteriorate. 

Hampton Division Fire & Rescue have also tweeted about roads beginning to slick. 

1:40 a.m. update: The blizzard warning remains for Hampton Roads.

Snow will begin to accumulate nearly two inches per hour, according to the National Weather Service. At 1:40 a.m. Saturday, NWS reported there was an inch on the ground at its office in Wakefield.

The NWS' 11 p.m. Friday forecast included Williamsburg in portions of the region that could see anywhere from 8 to 12 inches snow. The same amount is expected for the rest of the Peninsula area.

Overnight temperatures could drop to nearly zero degrees because of wind chill, according to the NWS. 

VDOT has reduced the speed limit to 45 mph on the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel, Monitor Merrimac Bridge-Tunnel and James River Bridge. In its tweet, it also asked drivers to avoid travel.

Areas in the southern tip of Hampton Roads are now expected to receive slightly less snow, with 6 to 8 inches forecast for portions of Virginia Beach.

11:30 p.m. update:

Travelers hoping to get in and out of town should expect some delays. 

All flights arriving at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport have been canceled, except for Delta Air flight 5218 coming from Atlanta. The only departing flight, American Airlines 5361 to Charlotte, has been cancelled. 

Flights coming into Norfolk International Airport Friday night have been canceled, except for American Airlines 3893 from Washington, D.C., which has arrived, Delta Air 1850 from Detroit, which is in-air and Delta Air 2095 from Atlanta, which has been delayed and scheduled to arrive at 12:54 a.m. 

According to a statement from Amtrak, service for Saturday has been adjusted. The Piedmont Trains 73 and 74 that run from Raleigh to Charlotte, the Carolinian Trains 79 and 80 that go from New York City to Charlotte are canceled. 

The Northeast Regional Train 65 that runs from Boston to Newport News and the Northeast Regional Train 71 from New York City to Norfolk will stop service at Washington D.C.

The Northeast Regional Train 88 that runs from Norfolk to Boston will run from Washington D.C. to Boston. 

The Palmetto Train 89 (New York City to Savannah) will run between New York City and Washington, D.C., and the Palmetto Train 90 (Savannah to New York City) will run between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Northeast Regional Trains 96 and 66 that operate between Newport News and Boston will only run between Washington, D.C. and Boston.

Amtrak will not provide alternate transportation, but passengers with affected plans can get either a refund or voucher, Amtrak said. 

Passengers who booked tickets online should log in to Amtrak.com and click the "cancel trip" option, and follow the steps to cancel the trip. Passengers who didn't log on to book a ticket can find "My Trip" under the "Fare Finder" tool bar, find the reservation using a reservation number and email or phone number and cancel the trip. 

Passengers who booked plans by phone can call 1-888-USA-Rail to cancel tickets, but should expect a wait, due to higher volume calls, Amtrak said. 

9 p.m. update: 

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for parts of Hampton Roads, according to its latest weather alert.

Areas included in the blizzard warning include Hampton, Poquoson, Norfolk and Virginia Beach, the weather agency reported.

Snow started falling across portions of the Peninsula after 10 p.m. Both the City Center area in Newport News and the Tabb area of York County reported steady but light snowfall around 11 p.m. with very little accumulation.

A blizzard warning means the area could have periods of high winds and heavy snow creating whiteout conditions with low visibility. 

Forecasts show some sleet will be mixed in with the snow over Norfolk, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. 

Snow predictions are still between eight and 12 inches, but could be as much as 15 inches in some areas of Hampton Roads, the weather service said. 

Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency Friday afternoon, and Virginia National Guard soldiers will be in the region to help facilitate a multi-agency response, according to a news release from the Virginia National Guard. 200 soldiers with Humvees, tactical trucks and chainsaws will be in the area Friday, assisting local police and emergency services Saturday morning, the release said. 

The light/medium tactical trucks and Humvees will help transport first responders through heavy snow, or help people looking for shelter evacuate, the release said. The chainsaws will help remove debris in the road. 

According to VDOT, 70 percent of snow-related deaths happen in cars, and drivers are encouraged to stay off the roads. VDOT has pre-treated roads, but warned drivers that roads will still be slick and potentially dangerous after snow falls. 

As of 6 p.m., the City of Virginia Beach declared a state of emergency, according to a news release. 

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