The entire region is bracing for a possible ice storm this weekend. Carrie Bly, spokesperson for West Virginia Department of Transportation, says, "ice is so hard for us to tackle".
There isn't much road crews can do in advance. Bly says, "We prepare, but we have to wait until the weather event happens to see how we can react to it".
Crews are on stand by. For now, all the DOT can do is warn the public. Bly highly recommends all residents stay off the roads in the event of a major ice storm, but if you must travel she advises motorists be prepared for hazardous driving conditions and to slow down.
Treating ice is difficult because salt is only effective to about 20 degrees. Bly says the DOT has other chemicals to use on ice, but they are very hard on the road and very expensive. Bly explains that since the DOT is already dealing with a tight budget, the DOT will turn to abrasives for an ice storm.
Hazardous driving conditions are just one problem a major ice storm can bring. Ice bringing down trees and power lines can cause widespread power outages. Phil Moye, spokesperson for Appalachian Power, explains ice accumulations of an eighth to a quarter of an inch is not too bad. However, half an inch of ice or more becomes a problem because that's enough to way down trees and power lines.
American Electric Power is already preparing for a storm. Moye says contractors and employees from Virginia will be on standby in our area by Sunday afternoon.
If a bad storm does hit, power outages affecting the most people will be addressed first. Moye says damage assessment specialists will actually drive the entire affected area to assess the extent of the damage.
You can be prepared by creating emergency kits complete with flashlights, batteries, blankets, and other items in case of power outages. Contact your power company to alert them of any power outages and downed trees or power lines. Also, be sure to check the DOT's website for updates on road conditions.