- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The latest on heavy snowfall in Virginia (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Snow, ice and gusting winds are being blamed for the collapse of a roof at a historic theater near the Chesapeake Bay.

The Donk’s Theater roof gave in Friday as the massive winter storm gripping the East Coast swept into Mathews County. No one was injured.

The county’s chief building official, Jamie Wilks, said the theater was a total loss, according to the Daily Press of Newport News (https://bit.ly/1ZJvZjS ). He said the building is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The theater opened in 1947 as a movie house. It closed in the 70s but was resurrected as a country music venue, ultimately earning the title as “Home of Virginia’s Lil’ Ole Opry.”

Dolly Parton was among the country entertainers who performed at Donk’s.

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2 p.m.

Longtime Virginia plow driver Robin Coleman said the current blizzard ranks in the top three storms he’s seen in nearly 40 years.

Coleman was working a 12-hour shift Saturday as Virginia Department of Transportation crews and contractors worked across the state to plow the state’s roads.

Coleman said a storm in the 80s and one in 1996 probably were worse. He’s worked at VDOT for 38 years.

Asked what his pet peeves were as a plow driver, Coleman said it was people unnecessarily leaving their cars parked in the street and reckless drivers in vehicles ill-equipped for snow storms.

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1:15 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe took a break from storm briefings and conference calls to give a pep talk to snowplow drivers and take a plow out for a quick spin.

The governor drove a state plow truck Saturday at a Virginia Department of Transportation operation center in suburban Richmond.

While doing a quick loop in the truck while a VDOT employee coached him how to drive the large truck, other plow drivers watched and quietly critiqued the governor’s plowing style.

After driving the truck, McAuliffe joked that he had found his next job.

The ebullient governor often hops behind the wheel of whatever vehicle happens to be around. In a recent trade mission to Cuba, McAuliffe drove a 1956 Chevy Bel Air through the streets of Havana.

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12:15 p.m.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is appealing residents to stay off the roads, even after a fierce winter storm has moved on.

McAuliffe told a news briefing in Richmond on Saturday he was pleased that many Virginians heeded the message to stay at home so road crews could clear highways.

But he said even though sun is in the forecast on Sunday, he wants residents to keep their vehicles parked at home. He said it’s costing the state $2 million to $3 million an hour to battle the storm.

McAuliffe said the storm had left a foot of snow in Roanoke and could blanket parts of northern Virginia with up to 3 feet.

He said more than 4,600 electric customers are without power.

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Noon

Mike Aliff has already helped seven stuck motorists with nothing more than a tow rope and his Jeep Wrangler.

After helping pull motorist Paul Kay’s car stuck out of a parking lot ramp on Midlothian Turnpike in suburban Richmond, Aliff said in an interview he enjoys driving around the storm helping people.

While authorities have warned drivers from hitting the streets during the ongoing snowstorm, Aliff said he’s not concerned about his Jeep getting stuck.

Roads were largely deserted Saturday morning in the Richmond area and most stores were closed.

On Friday, state police responded to a total 1,032 traffic crashes and 879 disabled vehicles statewide.

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9:20 a.m.:

Virginia State Police say high winds are drifting snow across state highways, making slick roads even more treacherous.

For a second day, they’re urging motorists to avoid travel if possible Saturday as a winter storm continues to grip the state. In northern Virginia, winds are reportedly gusting to 40 mph.

From midnight to 6 a.m. Saturday, Virginia troopers responded to 145 traffic crashes and 229 disabled vehicles across the state. Most of those occurred in northern Virginia.

Friday, state police responded to a total 1,032 traffic crashes and 879 disabled vehicles statewide.

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8 a.m.:

Virginia’s largest power company is reporting more than 8,000 outages from the winter storm.

Most of those power failures are in the southeastern part of the state, according to Dominion Virginia Power’s website.

Customers numbering in the hundreds are without power in the greater Richmond area and the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula area.

Appalachian Power Co. reports no major outages its Virginia service area.

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6:50 a.m.

The Virginia Department of Transportation is asking motorists to stay off the roads to make room for plows and sanders.

VDOT said Saturday the massive East Coast storm has already blanketed some parts of the state with 18 inches of snow. Up to 3 feet could pile up before the storm leaves the state.

Crews say intense wind gusts have complicated the cleanup, with snow being blown back over just-plowed road surfaces.

VDOT rates the conditions of most roads from moderate to severe.

VDOT has approximately 2,500 workers and more than 13,000 pieces of equipment in the statewide snow-removal battle.

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6:40 a.m.:

Virginia State Police say they responded to nearly 1,000 traffic crashes as a fearsome storm blanketed the state with snow.

From midnight through 10 p.m. Friday, troopers responded to 989 crashes and 793 disabled vehicles. All told, state police dispatch centers fielded 3,471 calls during that period.

Spokeswoman Corinne Geller says the majority of the crashes involve damage to vehicles. Virginia recorded one storm-related death Friday in Chesapeake.

A trooper was injured Friday night while assisting a disabled vehicle on Interstate 64 in New Kent County. Geller said Trooper M.D. Jester is being treated for minor injuries in a Richmond hospital.

State police are advising motorists to stay off the roads with more winter weather on the way.

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