Meltdown expected to begin

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Yes. No. Well, maybe. That’s about the last weather reports indicating wintry precipitation for the local area received late Friday night of last week.

However, as Saturday morning turned into afternoon it became apparent some form of wintry precipitation was destined for the eastern quadrant of North Carolina.

The Roanoke-Chowan Area (Bertie, Hertford, Northampton and Gates counties) missed seeing a white Christmas by only 24 hours as heavy, wet snow blanketed the area early Sunday morning.

Residents in Gates County reported as much as 11 inches of powdery snow while areas of Hertford, Bertie and Northampton reported any where from seven inches to 10 inches.

The snow, though creating a beautiful landscape and winter wonderland for the young at heart, brought traffic to a near standstill as motorists were caught right in the middle of holiday travel.

Edward and Lori Barnes, resident of Fuqua Varina, were visiting family and friends in their native Northampton County and were somewhat snowbound as they made arrangements to bunker down for the night Sunday.

&uot;We’ve got a plane to catch to get to Atlanta tomorrow (Monday),&uot; Ed Barnes stated. &uot;We just decided we’d spent the night and try to get an early start in the morning.&uot;

For local motorists, roads have been much worse, but they continue to be in dangerous condition.

Luckily, the snow was a powdery snow that left a blanket of wet underneath. This usually gives way to faster melting once the warmth of the sun has a chance to get to it – and that is what was expected all day Monday with temperatures reaching the upper-30s to near 40 degrees.

According to local authorities, roads were 100 percent snow-covered and Department of Transportation crews were out early Sunday to begin the task of snow removal.

Actually, state crews went to work in anticipation of the snowfall, putting sand on bridges and intersections as early as Saturday evening.

With the work being handled by both DOT and State Highway Patrol Monday morning, no spokespersons were available for comment.

Numerous accidents had been reported, but no fatalities caused by the weather were reported as of late Monday afternoon.

As for the weather forecast this week, the snow will have a battle on its hands as temperatures warm into the 40s today (Tuesday) and into the 50s to near 60 by week’s end. There is also expected to be a amble amount of sunshine to help in the melting process.

Authorities warn that below freezing temperatures at night could continue to cause traffic problems for much of the week as melting snow refreezes on the roadways.

Local law enforcement officers are asking motorists to stay off the road, especially at night, and if you do have to venture out, drive with caution.