Governor: Expect more power outages through afternoon

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Governor Bob McDonnell warned of potential increases in power outages as Wednesday's storm dropped heavy, wet snow across the Commonwealth.

The governor declared a State of Emergency for Virginia, after 400,000 people lost power across the state. The declaration authorized State agencies to assist local governments in responding to the snow storm that hit central and northern Virginia. McDonnell expected the number to rise as power lines continue to give way under the weight of the accumulating snow.

Virginia State Police responded to 1,346 calls for service, including 367 accidents between Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon. Thirty of those calls involved injuries, as road conditions worsened.

In declaring a state of emergency, the governor authorizes state agencies to identify and position resources for quick response anywhere they are needed in Virginia. State agencies have been responding to the since last night. Actions taken in Virginia include:

•  The Virginia Department of Emergency Management has held weather conference calls with the National Weather Service, state agencies and local governments.

•  The Virginia Department of Transportation has 2,424 pieces of state equipment, approximately 7,144 pieces of hired equipment and 818 pieces of interstate contractor equipment available for snow- and ice-control activities. VDOT also has 335,000 tons of salt and 125,000 tons of sand and abrasives on hand.  VDOT's goal is to have all state-maintained roads passable within 48 hours after the winter storm ends.  In northern Virginia, VDOT has one snow removal program for high volume roads such has Interstates 66, 95, 395, 495, Routes 1, 7, 15, 28, 50, Fairfax County Parkway, Prince William Parkway, etc.), and another snow removal program for subdivisions (main thoroughfares in neighborhoods, residential streets and cul de sacs).  Crews will be working on high volume roads and in subdivisions concurrently.  For each of these programs, roads with the highest traffic volumes are cleared first.

•  From midnight through 10 a.m. today, Virginia State Police fielded 1,346 calls for service, which included more than 367 traffic crashes and 237 disabled vehicles. As of 10:30 a.m., troopers were responding to a total of 111 incidents across the Commonwealth. The majority of the crashes involve damaged vehicles only and no injuries.  The bulk of the crashes are taking place in the Metro Richmond region and the Augusta County-Charlottesville area. Shifts have been extended and additional troopers called out to work so that all available personnel are on the roads and available to respond as quickly as possible to traffic crashes and stranded motorists.  No traffic fatalities have been reported.  Virginia State Police are still advising motorists to avoid traveling on the roads as this system continues to produce additional amounts of snow in the western, central and northern regions of the state.

•  The Virginia National Guard is staging personnel to support Virginia State Police in snow response.  The VNG has been authorized to bring up to 200 personnel on state active duty.  At this point, two groups of 50 personnel will be staged in northern and central Virginia.

•  The Virginia Emergency Operations Center has additional response team members to coordinate the state's response to the storm.

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