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Icy blast takes aim at R-C area

AHOSKIE – While Wednesday’s traffic gridlock was a nightmare in metro areas such as Norfolk and Raleigh, there’s no way that could happen here, right?

There is truth in that assumption, but local motorists should still be aware that stuck in the snow and/or ice on a cold night on a lonely road doesn’t exactly rank as one of life’s most enjoyable moments.

With another round of frigid winter weather, including the chance of freezing rain, sleet and snow, heading towards the Roanoke-Chowan area today and Sunday, First Sgt. B.A. Jones of the North Carolina Highway Patrol’s Troop A office in Ahoskie warns motorists to stay off the road if all possible.

&uot;This weather system coming in will be a tricky one to accurately forecast,&uot; Sgt. Jones said. &uot;What we’ve been hearing is that the center of the system will track across central Virginia, which normally means more in the way of liquid precipitation – rain, freezing rain or sleet – here in our local area before turning to snow later on Saturday.&uot;

He said the best advice is to simply stay at home and ride out the storm. Jones advised to be prepared if you do find it necessary to travel during the storm. Some of the necessary items include extra clothing, blankets, bottled water, flares (or reflective triangles) and food, especially if traveling with small children.

&uot;Another thing to keep in mind is how to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning if you find yourself trapped in your car in cold weather,&uot; Jones stated. &uot;Naturally, you will want to use the vehicle’s heating system to stay warm, but be sure to leave a window slightly cracked to prevent carbon monoxide from building up inside the vehicle.&uot;

Sgt. Jones said that carbon monoxide can also build-up if the vehicle’s exhaust system is covered in snow. He advised to keep that area free of snow.

&uot;If you do get into an accident due to the ice or snow, please realize that it may take a while for emergency responders to arrive at your location,&uot; said Sgt. Jones. &uot;There are multiple calls for aid during a snow or ice storm and the response teams are stretched to the limit. Also keep in mind that they have to travel slowly due to the weather conditions.&uot;

As far as the weekend’s weather, forecasters with the National Weather Service office in Wakefield, Va. are predicting a mixed bag of precipitation.

Another in a string of low pressure systems diving southeastward from Canada is expected to arrive late last night or early this morning. With cold air trapped at the ground and warmer conditions aloft, this sets-up the perfect scenario for a mixture of precipitation.

Using computer based models, NWS officials are predicting the moisture to begin as snow as early as daybreak today. The models then show a changeover to sleet, freezing rain and rain as the day wears on. The high is expected to be in the mid 30’s.

As colder air wraps around the low pressure tonight, the precipitation is expected to turn back to all snow from west to east. Tonight’s low will be around 30 degrees.

In their best estimate, NWS officials are saying we could be in store for perhaps a quarter-inch of ice and/or up to four inches of snow. Those amounts could vary within the entire region (northeastern North Carolina and southside Virginia), contingent upon how quickly the colder air arrives later in the day.

Snow showers could linger into Sunday where there is a 40 percent chance of precipitation. Sunday’s high will struggle to reach 30 degrees as a stiff north wind will blow at 20-to-25 mph. Sunday’s low will be in the upper teens as skies begin to clear.

Cold conditions will stick around on Monday (a high of 35) before a gradual warm-up begins. Highs by the middle of next week are expected to be in the 50’s.