Virginia Winter Storm Survival Guide


Whether you're new to Virginia or lived here for some time, we have some super helpful information to help you prepare and protect your family this winter!

Before a Winter Weather Event

How you can stay informed

Stay ahead of local weather, especially before you head out the door and get on the road. Track storms and make appropriate preparations for the worst-case scenario. Know the difference between a winter storm WATCH and a winter storm WARNING.




National Weather Service for Virginia social media channels and regions:



NWS On Twitter                                                     NWS On Facebook

@WakefieldVA                                                        @WakefieldVA
@NWBlacksburg                                                    @NWBlacksburg
@NWS_BaltWash                                                   @NWS_BaltWash
@NWSMorristown                                                  @NWSMorristown
@NWSCharlestonWV                                            @NWSCharlestonWV


How you can be prepared on the road

Prepare your car for winter weather with regular maintenance including antifreeze, battery and tire checks, windshield wiper, and fluid replacement. Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you don't get stuck in an emergency and keep the fuel line from freezing. We have more travel safety tips!


Winter Emergency Car Kit


Take your time driving

Virginians do not have a ton of opportunities to practice driving in snow and iceSo what's the safest way to drive in snow and ice especially if you rarely do it? Some folks say just pretend you're taking grandma to church. There's a platter of biscuits and two gallons of sweet tea in glass jars in the back seat. She's wearing a new dress and holding a crockpot full of gravy!



Virginia Department of Transportation resources

Virginia 511 System: provides the latest traffic and road conditions by phone, website, and app.

VDOT Safety Patrol: tire change assistance, fuel at the nearest gas station, jump starts, phone access, and directions.

Virginia State Police: Twitter: @VSPPIO Facebook:@VirginiaStatePolice

Virginia Department of Transportation: local travel advisories on Twitter follow:

@VaDOTNOVA, (Northern VA) @VaDOTStaunton,  @VaDOTCULP (Culpepper), @VaDOTRVA, (Richmond) @VaDOTBristol, @VaDOTSalem,  @VaDOTHR (HamptonRoads),  @VaDOTLynchburg or @VaDOTFRED (Fredericksburg).

Follow VDOT's Facebook Page and join the following groups for local advisories: VDOT Fredericksburg District, VDOT Salem District, VDOT Hampton Roads District. 


We are right here and ready to help!

As a Northern Neck member, you get 24/7/365 Roadside Assistance included in your car insurance. If you break down, run out of gas, or get a flat tire, we're just a quick phone call away.


NNINS Claims and Roadside Assitance Numbers


What to do if you get stranded in your car

  • Stay put, call and wait for help. Do not leave unless help is visible within 100 yards.
  • Indicate you are in need of help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling.
  • Run the engine intermittently to keep warm, about 10 minutes each hour (or 5 minutes every half hour).
  • Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a rear window for ventilation.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.
  • Do light exercises for circulation (avoid staying in one position for too long).

Check Virginia airports for travel delays

Click the links for updated flight information.

How you can have a family plan

  • Locate a homeless shelter if needed. Be prepared for COVID-19 questions and PPE.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing that will keep you warm.
  • Be prepared to evacuate if you lose power or heat and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter: @VDEM on Twitter,
  • Bring your animals inside and ensure that your horses and livestock have blankets if appropriate and unimpeded access to shelter, food, and non-frozen water.
  • Buy a battery-operated and hand-crank weather radio.
  • Build a VDEM-recommended emergency kit with extra batteries, food, water, prescriptions, etc. 
  • Locate copies of your insurance policy.
  • Have family and emergency contact information available.
  • Get extra cash. In a power outage, ATMs may not be working.
  • Have a home inventory.

How to protect your home

  • Locate your home insurance documents and policy number, as well as contact information for your local agent.
  • Prepare the outside of your home for cold weather.
  • Learn how to protect pipes from freezing and what to do if you think you already have a frozen pipe.
  • Have working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Avoid using candles. If necessary, keep them at least 3 feet away from children, pets, and anything flammable.
  • Emergency heating equipment safety tips
    • Wood or coal-burning stoves, electric or kerosene heaters are heat safe when used correctly.  
    • Stoves must be properly vented and in good working order. Dispose of ashes safely. Keep a supply of wood or coal on hand. 
    • Electric space heaters must be UL certified. Plug a heater directly into the wall and avoid using an extension cord. Unplug it when it is not in use.  Use a kerosene heater only if permitted by law in your area; check with your local fire department.
    • Use only the correct fuel for your unit. Properly ventilate the area. Refuel the unit outdoors only, and only when the unit is cool. Follow all the manufacturer's instructions.
    • Maintain your fireplace/wood stove inspected annually. It should be properly vented and in good working order. Dispose of ashes safely in a metal container and wait until cool to throw away.
    • Know what an ice dam is and what to do if you have one on your roof. 

How to keep your pets safe

  • Have extra pet food and water on hand plus any necessary medications.
  • Make sure your pets are current on their vaccinations.
  • Have a current picture on your phone.
  • Make sure your pet is wearing a collar with identification and keep a leash on hand.
  • Have properly sized pet carriers.
  • Have a place to take your pet – kennels, veterinary clinics, and the homes of friends and relatives are all places you can take your pet in an emergency.
  • Find a pet-friendly motel:

After a Winter Weather Event

How to take care of your home and community

After any severe storm, there could be damage, including downed trees on your property, power outages, broken glass, and more.

  • Check on elderly or disabled neighbors and relatives.
  • Remove snow and ice properly to prevent slips and falls around your home or business.
  • Clear your neighborhood fire hydrants.

  • Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.
  • Inspect your home for damage and take pictures.
  • Be careful walking around damaged areas in your home.
  • If you have weather damage to your home, contact your independent agent or our 24/7 Claims Hotline at 877-968-7252.

shoveling snow

Report a power outage

Click on the links below to report an outage and for information from utilities in your area.

Snowplowing Roads In Virginia

VDOT's clearance goals after a storm ends allow for one passable lane on all subdivisions:
2-4” of snow: 24 hours 
4-6” of snow: 48 hours
6” or more: More than 72 hours.

Check out this helpful video from the Virginia Department of Transportation about plowing roads. You can also see when the roads in your Virginia community are plowed with VDOT's Online Snowplow Tracker Tool.


Driving safely on Virginia roads

Prepare to drive safely following a storm with the following tips:

  • Remove ALL SNOW AND ICE from your car before driving including sensors and cameras. 
  • Monitor forecasts closely
  • Adjust your commute and telework if possible
  • When you do drive, ensure you have enough gas, wiper fluid, proper tire tread, food, water, and required medication in an emergency kit.
  • Give snowplows room to work.
  • Please be patient and allow extra time to travel.

Winter driver cartoon


Waze, the navigation app, developed a new "hazard" to report unplowed roads and black ice after VDOT suggested it might be helpful to drivers. This is really handy for side roads and communities. Just tap on “Hazards -> Weather -> Unplowed Road” etc. As a Waze for Cities Data partner, VDOT plans to monitor reports coming in from Wazers and those who are simply shoveling their driveways and sidewalks this winter and determine how they can incorporate this data into their operations for the following winter.

How to Report a Winter Road Hazard with Waze

Just don't report this while you're driving. You can also report a road issue at 1-800-367-7623 (FOR-ROAD). For life-threatening emergencies, please dial 911. 


NNINS 24/7 Emergency Roadside Assistance: 

800-913-8847 / 804-286-3044


Stay safe and let us know if we've left anything out! And let us know how we can serve you. 

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