Let it snow!

Published 9:30 pm Monday, January 19, 2009

If you are a fan of snow, you are perhaps celebrating today (Tuesday).

The National Weather Service (NWS) office in Wakefield, Va. has snow in today’s forecast. Depending upon the track of a strong area of low pressure that is expected to move up the coast, the Roanoke-Chowan area could see anywhere between two to six inches. Some areas could possibly see higher amounts.

Due to the low pressure system, which began to take shape late on Monday, and the arrival of colder air from the west, the NWS issued a Winter Storm Warning for all of northeastern North Carolina and southside Virginia. The broader warning area extends from Charlotte northeastward to the coast.

The warning went into affect at 9 p.m. on Monday and was predicted at that time to last until 6 p.m. today.

At 7 p.m. on Monday, NWS officials were predicting the local precipitation to begin as rain, then mixing with light snow as colder air filters in during Tuesday’s pre-dawn hours. After daybreak, the snowfall is expected to become heavy at times before tapering off from southwest to northeast Tuesday afternoon.

With temperatures expected to hit the upper teens tonight, the snow slush on local roadways is expected to freeze, causing hazardous driving conditions. That prompted the

N.C. Department of Transportation to begin pre-treating bridges and major routes as necessary with a special salt and water solution called salt brine, which sticks to the roads and keeps ice from bonding to the pavement during the first few hours of a storm. When snow starts to accumulate, NCDOT uses salt to treat roads.

NCDOT crews will closely monitor the storm and disperse an array of equipment to help clear the roads. The department prioritizes which roads are cleared first, focusing on strategic corridors such as interstates and other multi-lane primary routes that are essential to the movement of intrastate and regional traffic. NCDOT then works to clear lower-volume primary roads and secondary roads and then subdivision streets.

Motorists are asked to give snow plows and other NCDOT equipment plenty of room and to avoid unnecessary travel, both for their safety and to allow crews time to clear affected roadways.

If travel is absolutely necessary, motorists should use the following precautions:

Clear windows and mirrors;

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

Bridges and overpasses accumulate ice first. Approach them with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on the bridge;

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 vehicle;

Come to a complete stop or yield the right of way when approaching an intersection where traffic lights are out. Treat this scenario as a four-way stop; and

If you have a cellular phone, take it with you. You can contact the Highway Patrol statewide by calling *HP (*47) or call the county emergency center by dialing 911.

For real-time information on road conditions, visit www.ncdot.gov and click on “Travel Information” or call 511, the state’s toll-free travel information line.

After a high of only 35 degrees on Wednesday, the snow will hopefully melt away later in the week. Thursday’s high is projected at 47 degrees, moderating to 57 on Friday.