WASHINGTON, Jan. 21 (UPI) — Virginia declared a state of emergency ahead of a massive snowstorm that could bring up to two feet of snow to areas along the East Coast.
Blizzard conditions — snow, sleet, freezing rain and gusty winds — are expected over areas that include Virginia, prompting the governor’s emergency declaration allowing authorities to position resources for speedy responses. Up to two feet of snow, wind gusts up to 50 mph and freezing rain could cause widespread power outages, downed trees and blocked roads. The Virginia National Guard has been authorized to bring up to 500 personnel on state active duty for possible assistance, the governor’s office said.
Record snowfall is expected from Virginia into Washington, D.C., possibly extending as far north as New York City and Boston. Winter weather advisories have been posted from Ohio to Georgia. Snow began falling Wednesday in some areas, but the bulk of the storm is expected to hit Friday and into the weekend. Some meteorologists are forecasting up to 30 inches of snow in the nation’s capital by Sunday, shattering a 1922 record of 28 inches of snow. The National Weather Service said the likely snowfall will be about two feet.
“A potentially crippling winter storm is anticipated for portions of the mid-Atlantic Friday into early Saturday. Snowfall may approach two feet for some locations, including the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., metro areas. Farther north, there is uncertainty in snowfall for the New York City-to-Boston corridor. Farther south, significant icing is likely for portions of Kentucky and North Carolina,” the National Weather Service said.
The expected snow is particularly concerning in Washington, D.C. after a modest snowfall late Wednesday left motorists stranded on major highways up to nine hours. Abandoned vehicles and hundreds of fender benders littered the highways after one inch of snow fell. Some officials were so focused on the weekend storm they didn’t prepare for the smaller snowfall.
“All Virginians should take the threat of this storm seriously and take necessary precautions now to ensure they are prepared for travel disruptions and possible power outages during a cold weather period,” he said.