Winter Weather: We’re not out of the woods just yet

Published 1:43pm Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Be careful…this winter weather event is far from over.

Roanoke-Chowan area residents will be met with another round of icy roads on Thursday morning…this coming after Tuesday’s 1-4 inches of snow (depending on where you live in the region) briefly melting on Wednesday and freezing that night where lows dipped to at or near single digits.

Wind-blown snow is shown Tuesday night in the Pinetops community of Northampton County. Snowfall ranged from 1-4 inches in the Roanoke-Chowan area. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant
Wind-blown snow is shown Tuesday night in the Pinetops community of Northampton County. Snowfall ranged from 1-4 inches in the Roanoke-Chowan area. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

“We got some thermal warming on the roads Wednesday, but with the temperature falling Wednesday night to around 10 degrees, whatever melted earlier in the day will freeze solid,” said Northampton County Emergency Management Director Ronnie Storey Jr. “I expect the roads to be worse on Thursday morning than they were on Wednesday.”

Storey said Tuesday’s snowfall measured as high as four inches in the Pleasant Hill (northwestern corner of the county) to around two inches to two and one-half inches in the eastern half (Conway, Woodland, Rich Square areas).

“We had a few fender bender accidents on Wednesday morning, but thankfully no injuries,” Storey said. “Perhaps the most significant wreck was one of GP’s (Georgia Pacific) resin trucks lost control on the icy road and turned over on its side up near Garysburg. The driver was not injured and no resin was spilled.”

Due to the extremely icy conditions on the secondary roads in Northampton, County offices were closed on Wednesday, as were the county’s schools.

Northampton County Manager Ken Creque sent an electronic notice on Wednesday morning, stating that county offices are scheduled to open at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23. Creque said that road conditions throughout the county will be reevaluated Thursday morning.

All emergency personnel (Sheriff, EMS, 9-11 Emergency Communications), and essential staff (County Jail) will report as normal.

The Northampton County Board of Commissioners meeting, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday, has been postponed until 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 27.

In Hertford County, Emergency Management Director Chris Smith said no major incidents were reported from the winter storm.

“It was quiet here for the most part, other than a few motorists winding up in the ditch when their vehicle lost traction on an icy road,” Smith said. “All of our county offices, schools and the courts were closed on Wednesday. It’s too early to say right now if they will reopen on Thursday.”

As far as snowfall was concerned, Smith said it was generally in the two-inch range for most of the county.

“The Como area in the northern part of the county got the most snow….about three inches,” he said.

Smith added that Wednesday’s abundant sunshine will help melt the snow/ice from the roads.

“But we’re not out of the woods just yet,” he said. “Yes, the sun will help, as will DOT putting down sand/salt and more (salt) brine on Wednesday. That will melt what’s there, but with the temperature forecasted at 10 (degrees) on Wednesday night, I believe we’ll be dealing with some slick spots on our roads Thursday morning. I would advise everyone to be extremely cautious on the roads.”

BertieCounty received between a half-inch and one inch of snowfall Tuesday night, according to Emergency Management Director Mitch Cooper.

Cooper says as of Wednesday morning, at which time the Winter Weather Advisory was lifted, there were six vehicle accidents in Bertie County, but only one with injuries. That accident occurred on NC 308 (near the old Southwestern Middle School) when an 18-wheeler hit an icy patch in the road, spun, and struck another vehicle. The North Carolina Highway Patrol was on the scene at that accident.

According to Cooper, icy conditions have made for hazardous driving on all roads in the county.

“The biggest thing is to be cautious on the road,” said Cooper. “Icy conditions on the roads will have to be a concern for motorists tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday).”

Up in Gates County, Emergency Management Director Billy Winn said the snowfall was light….approximately 1.5 inches.

“We’ve had some melting this morning (Wednesday) and where DOT has scraped, our main roads are in pretty good shape,” Winn noted. “Our back roads are very icy.”

Winn said there were a few traffic mishaps Tuesday night into Wednesday morning due to the icy roads.

“Things went basically well here because most people heeded the warnings and stayed at home and off the roads,” he stated.

The timing was good for Gates County Public Schools as the system was already on a scheduled semester break on Tuesday and Wednesday. Winn said he was uncertain if the schools would open on Thursday.

“I wouldn’t think so at this point, especially with our back roads like they are now and I doubt they will get any better as the day wears on, but that’s not my call, that’s up to the (schools) superintendent,” Winn stated.

All I can say, that probably has already been said by the other EM (Emergency Management) guys, is if you do have to get out on the roads, especially Wednesday night and Thursday morning, use common sense. Slow down and don’t brake suddenly unless it’s absolutely necessary to do so,” Winn concluded.

Meanwhile, NC DOT maintenance crews in the 14 counties within Division One are currently responding to snow and ice on roads as far east as the Outer Banks, and as far west as Northampton County.

Most primary routes (N.C. and U.S. routes) are in fair condition in Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties. However, snow or ice still covers the roadway in many locations.

DOT crews in these counties spread salt brine on most N.C. and U.S. routes on Tuesday to prevent ice from forming and adhering to road surfaces. The brine did wash away in some areas where the storm started as rain. In areas where the storm began as frozen precipitation, the brine enabled maintenance crews to remove snow and ice from the road. Secondary roads in these counties are still seeing large amounts of snow and ice.

Crews will continue clearing roads and spreading salt in the region throughout Wednesday, but due to the anticipated low temperatures, melting of snow and ice may be minimal.

NCDOT advises motorists to be careful and follow the below safety tips if driving in winter weather:

Clear windows and mirrors;

Reduce speed and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles;

Approach bridges and overpasses them with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on a bridge unless necessary;

If you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car;

Come to a complete stop or yield the right of way when approaching an intersection in case any vehicles coming from other directions lose control of their vehicles while trying to stop.

If you have a cellular phone, take it with you. You can contact the Highway Patrol statewide by calling *HP (*47) or call law enforcement in the event of an emergency by dialing 911.

Travelers are asked NOT to call 911 or the State Highway Patrol for road conditions. The lines must remain clear for emergency calls.

For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type “m.ncdot.gov” into the browser of your smartphone. Then, bookmark it to save for future reference.

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