Weekend snow in the forecast

Published 7:29 am Friday, December 24, 2010

There’s a good chance the Roanoke-Chowan area will witness its first white Christmas in over 20 years.

The questions are….how much will fall and exactly when will it begin?

Meteorologists say it’s too early to predict the exact path of a low pressure system that is expected to move up the North Carolina coast on Saturday and Sunday. With cold air solidly in place, snow is expected to begin falling sometimes in the afternoon of Christmas Day, perhaps into the early evening hours, and continue overnight into Sunday.

“It is too soon to tell exactly what this storm will do, but the forecast models indicate that much of the state has a likely chance of snow Christmas night and through Sunday morning,” said Raleigh-based National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Orrock.

Orrock stressed that it is too early to tell how much accumulation there would be, but added that people need to be thinking about preparations now… just in case.

“We know many people will be traveling for the holidays and we want everyone to be prepared and especially careful,” said state Emergency Management Director Doug Hoell. “Now is the time to watch those weather forecasts and update those emergency supplies kits for your home and car.”

Hoell added that holiday travelers should plan on reaching their destination by Saturday afternoon, then make plans to stay put for a few days if needed.

The uncertainty over the amount of snow is linked to the track of the storm as it makes its way up the coast. As of late Thursday, the storm was expected to track further out to sea, meaning light snow is projected for northeast North Carolina and southside Virginia. However, weather systems have a tendency to change tracks. If this particular storm is closer to the North Carolina coast than now projected, snowfall totals will increase dramatically.

State agencies are monitoring the weather and are ready to respond to any hazardous conditions that may impact North Carolina over the holiday weekend.  The N.C. Division of Emergency Management is coordinating with local emergency agencies across the state.

On Thursday, N.C. Department of Transportation vehicles were seen spreading a brine solution on R-C area roadways and will do likewise on interstates and major US routes.

DOT reminds motorists to leave plenty of distance between their vehicles and the yellow trucks spraying salt brine on the roads. The extra room not only helps crews better apply the salt brine, but it also creates safer driving conditions for everyone sharing the road. This safety tip also applies to DOT snow plows.

At this time, DOT maintenance workers in the local area are not scheduled to work on Christmas Eve, which is an official state holiday, so that they may celebrate with their families before the storm hits. They will, however, be on standby to respond to the winter weather on Christmas Day. County maintenance engineers will continue to monitor the forecast and determine staffing schedules based on when the snow is predicted to fall.

The N.C. State Highway Patrol already has additional troopers on call to help the motoring public over the holiday weekend.

Local motorists with travel plans to the New England states over the holiday weekend are urged to closely monitor the weather forecast.

Temperatures this weekend call for highs in the mid to upper 30’s on Saturday and Sunday. Overnight lows are projected at 32 degrees on Saturday, falling to the mid 20’s on Sunday night.

Early next week, expect highs in the upper 30’s on Monday and Tuesday with overnight lows in the low 20’s.

Winter safety tips

Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.

Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators OUTSIDE and away from any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.

Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and weather radios.

Always keep a three to seven-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.

Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing to stay warm. You will be warmer and, as the temperature changes, you can easily remove layers to remain comfortable.

If you must travel during a winter storm, store an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: blankets, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, battery booster cables and flares, a tire repair kit and pump, a road map, a sack of cat litter (for tire traction), a tow rope, bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, extra clothing to keep dry, and a windshield scraper and brush.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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