WYTHEVILLE, Va. – On the eve of what has the potential to be blizzard-like conditions, the local government of Wythe County is working to ensure its citizens and the tens of thousands of individuals who pass through the locality each day are aware of the possible severity of the coming winter storm.
The county hosted an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon with several key agencies and government entities to ensure all necessary plans are in place in order to maximize the critical response capabilities of the locality.
According to the National Weather Service, Wythe County will be hit with a “major winter storm late tonight through Saturday night.”
Accumulation projections are in the neighborhood of 12-18” with even greater amounts in higher elevations. More troubling to local officials, however, are the anticipated snowfall rates, which are predicted to fall at roughly 2-inches per hour.
Due to the snowfall rates, the National Weather Service cautioned residents that “travel may become impossible in some areas.”
Wythe County Sheriff Keith Dunagan gave this warning to residents, “Stay at home – roads are likely to become impassable.”
Following the sheriff’s advice, many local offices and business have opted not to open on Friday, including the Wythe County Treasurer and Commissioner of the Revenue.
In the event that travel is absolutely necessary, emergency officials are advising county residents to keep an extra flashlight in the vehicle, food and water, as well as several blankets.
“The weather will severely delay the ability of first-responders to reach citizens in the event of an emergency. Motorists need to be aware of this and take all necessary precautions to look out for their own safety. Travel is strongly discouraged,” stated Jeremy Farley, Wythe County Public Information Officer.
In addition to posing significant hindrances to travel, the storm is also expected to cause some level of power outages throughout the Commonwealth.
Appalachian Electric Power announced that they are staging line workers at three separate locations in Virginia – Wytheville, Roanoke and Lynchburg.
A representative of the power company told county officials that Virginia residents should “expect some power outages.”
Residents are being encouraged to have secondary non-electric sources of heat in place or have plans ready should they lose electricity.
The county is also working with several key agencies to make preparations for opening emergency shelters should the need arise.
Tim Reeves, Chairman of the Wythe County Board of Supervisors, reminded residents to avoid unnecessary travel.
“Our emergency responders and key personnel will be working hard throughout the storm. We are committed to keeping the residents safe and ask that the citizens do their part by avoiding all unnecessary travel,” stated Reeves.
A fundamental element to the county’s dedication to keeping residents safe will be communication. Wythe County will be posting regular updates to the locality’s official social media pages (Facebook.com/WytheCo, Twitter: @WytheCounty), as well utilizing the county’s citizen notification system should the need arise.
The county will also be working closing with the local radio station 1280AM WYVE, should the locality need to open emergency shelters.
Residents are encouraged to keep their cell phones fully charged, as power outages and downed lines may leave some homes without a working telephone.
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