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Gov. McAuliffe: ‘If you could, stay home Sunday and Monday’

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RICHMOND, Va. – Governor Terry McAullife addressed the winter storm’s impact, from the emergency operations center off Midlothian Turnpike.

He said that the snow should end by midnight in Virginia, but that plowing efforts will continue for days.

In Fairfax, residents have 20 inches of snow, and the area is expected to receive accumulations up to three feet.

“Please allow us, with our 13,000 pieces of equipment, to get out there Sunday and Monday, to do our job and clear roads,” Gov. McAuliffe said. “Our roads are empty and I want to thank everybody for that.”

There are 9,500 personnel currently tasked, which includes 2,500 state employees and 7,000 contractors plowing and sanding.

"As of this morning, we had dropped 69,000 tons of salt, 304,000 gallons of liquid salt and 14,000 tons of sand have been put on our streets," McAuliffe said.

“Tomorrow there is a chance that the sun could possibility come out. We are begging folk not to come out,” he added. “Please stay off the road tomorrow and Monday.”

The plows have a set schedule of roads to get to, and when they encounter traffic, their strategy is delayed. McAulliffe said there is so much snow that it will simply take a while to clear.

“It generally costs us $2-$3 million an hour” in a storm like this to clear roads,” he said. “We are going to do whatever it takes. “

The snow budget, untouched currently he said, is over $200 million.

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The sun may come out Sunday, and temperatures will slightly rise before they quickly plummet overnight – which will create a treacherous re-freeze.

McAuliffe said that he has talked to Dr. Steven Staples, Superintendent of Virginia Schools, who will brief area superintendents on Sunday.

“Obviously Hampton Roads doesn’t have the challenges that we have in Fairfax, Loudon, and Prince Williams,” he said. “We will give the lay of the land for all superintendents tomorrow on a call.”

“This is a record amount of snow for a lot of areas,” he added.

“By Monday afternoon we are hoping we can do a primary pass on the secondary roads,” McAuliffe said. He emphasized that Henrico and Richmond are responsible for their own roads.

He also thanked VDOT crews and emergency responders for their help.

“I am very proud of our VDOT folks and everyone in this emergency command," he said.

He said the Virginia State Police so far responded to 4,432 calls for help,  and there have been at least 1,100 car accidents. Five VSP troopers have been injured, and they have all been treated and released. There has been one storm-related fatality in Chesapeake, and two other deaths that are being investigated to see if they are storm-related.