SOUTHWEST VIRGINIA (WJHL) – As the Tri-Cities sees its first snowfall of the season, the Virginia Department of Transportation and county emergency management agencies all say they already have an inclement weather plan in place.

“Throughout the fall VDOT has been preparing for the winter season,” said Michelle Earl with VDOT’s Bristol Region. “We’ve got equipment already, we have approximately 700 pieces of equipment at our disposal to use during snow removal operations.”

As the Virginia Department of Transportation and local emergency management have prepared for the winter weather, they’re asking drivers to do the same.

“We just want people to be very cautious, not to be in a hurry, to take your time, plan ahead, and be prepared,” said Jess Powers, the Russell County Emergency Management director. “Have a blanket some water in your vehicle in case you do get stuck or have an emergency.”

Statewide, VDOT has budgeted for more than $210 million for snow removal with $19 million of that for the Bristol, Virginia Region.

“Every storm is a little different,” explained Earl, “With it coming in as rain for this event we will not do any pre-treating.”

Though the highways may not see a lot of ice, drivers will want to be extra cautious on backroads.

“Black ice is always a big concern especially on the higher elevations because they freeze first,” said Powers. “Also, we’re concerned about power outages in the area due to the ice.”

If you have to travel long distances, Earl says, “Even if the interstate, if the pavement isn’t frozen, bridges and overpasses they have a tendency to freeze quicker than the roadways. So always watch for bridges and overpasses when traveling.”

VDOT said if you don’t have to go out during inclement weather, stay home.

If you do have to go somewhere, have a winter weather driving plan in place.