VDOT pretreating roads ahead of wintry mix in weekend forecast

WASHINGTON — The Virginia Department of Transportation began pretreating roads in the D.C. suburbs on Thursday ahead of forecasted wintry weather set to arrive in the Mid-Atlantic Saturday morning.

The Eastern Shore and far Southern Maryland could see snow accumulations of 1 to 3 inches. But closer to D.C., a mix of rain and snow could hit Fredericksburg plus Stafford and King George’s counties and areas along the Interstate 95 corridor, said Storm Team4 meteorologist Amelia Draper.

“This rain and snow mix could arrive in our area around 6 a.m., 7 a.m. and then stick around throughout the day,” Draper said.

That wintry mix could extend as far west as Fauquier County and Loudoun County to the north, Draper said.

Little to no snow accumulation is expected in the immediate D.C. area because temperatures should be too warm, she said.

But if road temperatures drop enough, that wet mix could create slick driving conditions.

“Based on past weather events, and because this is the first shot at wintry weather this season, I think it’s good they’re pre-treating the roads in an abundance of caution,” Draper said.

VDOT posts road temperatures online, which Draper called a great tool for drivers to check before they hit the road.

When VDOT first planned to pretreat, the forecast called for a small chance of wintry mix during the Friday afternoon rush hour; now that has been pushed back to Saturday, said VDOT spokeswoman Ellen Kamilakis.

Even with the chance of a rain-snow mix on Saturday, the brine will provide some benefit, Kamilakis said.

Crews will take advantage of the warmer, dry weather on Thursday and Friday to treat roads between peak rush hours in Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties, she said.

Ever since icy, untreated roads brought traffic in the D.C. region to a crawl in January 2016, VDOT has tried to get out ahead of wintry precipitation and pretreat Northern Virginia roads if the forecast calls for winter weather during the rush hour, Kamilakis said.

Maryland State Highway Administration officials planned to decide by the end of the day whether to pretreat or not. If mostly rain is forecast, they would likely not treat the roads because the treatment would just wash away, said spokesman Charlie Gischlar.

How to check road temperatures:

VDOT posts road temperatures on its 511Virginia.org site. In the left, navigate bar, choose the weather dropdown. Then click the button for pavement temperatures.

Drivers can find pavement temperatures on VDOT’s 511Virginia.org site. The information is under the weather tab. (WTOP photo illustration)

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