Mother Nature helps melt snow

Published 9:28 am Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snowflakes began falling in Ahoskie around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, prompting area citizens to make the trek to the gas station and grocery store. Here, a shopper looks for his vehicle after exiting Piggly Wiggly of Ahoskie. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

Snowflakes began falling in Ahoskie around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, prompting area citizens to make the trek to the gas station and grocery store. Here, a shopper looks for his vehicle after exiting Piggly Wiggly of Ahoskie. Staff Photo by Cal Bryant

While the Roanoke-Chowan area escaped the worst of this latest round of nasty winter weather, the majority of North Carolina citizens face the task of digging out from under a mountain of snow and ice this morning (Thursday).

Locally, there was up to four inches of snow, leaving the roads in rough shape for Wednesday afternoon traffic headed home or elsewhere. There were numerous reports of traffic accidents, the majority of which involved vehicles slipping off the road and into ditches. A few weren’t so lucky as their vehicles overturned.

Wednesday’s snow turned to sleet, then rain, as predicted, overnight. By Thursday morning, DOT crews had cleared or were in the process of clearing all local roads. They were aided in that effort by Mother Nature as rain and slowly rising temperatures helped to melt away the snow.

There is a chance of snow showers later Thursday, but little or no accumulation is expected.

Old Man Winter’s wrath was especially felt west of I-95. The Raleigh area was predicted to receive 4-to-6 inches of snow on Wednesday, then see a change to freezing drizzle today (Thursday) before a change back to snow (an additional 1-to-3 inches).

Fayetteville wasn’t expecting that much snow, but rather more ice. Freezing rain and sleet dominated the forecasted precipitation there.

Greensboro was expecting 6-to-10 inches of snow Wednesday and perhaps three more inches Thursday. That area of the state may also see some freezing drizzle and sleet mixed in today.

The forecast called for up to nine inches of snow in Charlotte on Wednesday, with another inch today.

The North Carolina mountains may experience up to a foot of snow combined over the two days.

For the third time in less than a month, Governor Pat McCrory joined public safety and transportation officials to urge North Carolinians to prepare for more winter storms.

“While North Carolina is well-versed in winter storm response, it is unusual to have three storms come so close together that have significant impacts on large portions of the state,” Governor McCrory said on Wednesday as he signed a State of Emergency declaration enabling him to mobilize the necessary resources to respond to a storm. It also is the first step in seeking federal funds to help defray the cost of providing emergency services, clearing debris and repairing any damaged public infrastructure. The declaration is executed under the Emergency Management Act.

Also included in the executive order was a waiver on restrictions on weight and the hours of service for fuel, utility and other truck drivers that may be working to deliver supplies, restore services or clear debris in response to the winter storm. The waiver is in effect for 30 days.

“Our residents, as well as our livestock industry, need heat and electricity. These declarations are one way that the state can help to ensure that goods and services are restored as soon as possible,” Governor McCrory said.

Once again, Governor McCrory said state agencies have been working with local emergency management officials. Storm preparations include transportation crews treating the roads with salt and brine, and state highway patrol troopers and N.C. National Guard soldiers are on standby.

Governor McCrory was joined by Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry, Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry, Highway Patrol Commander Colonel Bill Grey, National Guard Adjutant General Gregory Lusk and representatives from the Department of Agriculture.

In a proactive move, 1,350 NCDOT employees used 445 NCDOT trucks and 15 contract trucks to begin spraying salt brine on interstates, four-lane divided highways and major routes across the state.

Crews from Asheville to the coast are continued brining operations Wednesday to ensure the most heavily traveled roads and high-rise bridges are pretreated before the storm moves in. They are also preparing snow clearing equipment and closely monitoring the forecast to tailor their response to any changes in conditions.

With snowfall starting Tuesday in Western North Carolina as well as along the Outer Banks and southern inland sections, NCDOT crews clears roads there.

“We began preparations well ahead of the storm, and our team stands ready to clear whatever it brings as quickly as possible,” said Tata. “Safety is always our top priority. Removing snow and ice from thousands of roadway miles takes time, and rain can wash away brine treatments, so we want to remind drivers to avoid impacted roads unless it is absolutely necessary and use extreme caution if you have to travel.”

The latest weather models show the potential for heavy snow and ice accumulation across the state over the next few days, which could cause downed trees and power lines. NCDOT will work closely with utility companies to safely clear roads of fallen trees and power lines. Motorists should use caution and not try to remove trees on their own as they could be wrapped in energized power lines.

You can find updated weather and road conditions on the web site or with the new ReadyNC mobile app. The free app is available for iPhones and Android devices in the AppStore and Play Store; search “ReadyNC.”

“Our emergency managers at the state and local level have been watching this storm closely,” Perry said. “Our first responders are ready for this storm. We can do our part by watching the weather and ensuring our families and friends are prepared.”

NCNG has prepositioned 96 guardsmen with Humvees to help local emergency managers respond to the winter storm.

“Due to the winter weather, motorists are urged to stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary to travel,” said Colonel Grey. “Our troopers are ready to assist stranded motorists as needed, but the best way to remain safe is to stay off the roads.”

Travelers are urged to call 511 or go to for up to date roadway conditions. Motorists are reminded NOT to call 911 or the State Highway Patrol Communication Centers for roadway conditions; those lines must remain clear for emergency calls.

If you must travel, the North Carolina Highway Patrol recommends following these safety tips:

Reduce your speed. Driving at the regular speed limit will reduce your ability to control the car if you begin to slide.

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 do 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.

Perry said the forecasted amounts of snow combined with below-freezing temperatures, means that the storm’s affects likely will be felt through Thursday. The good news is the weekend forecast calls for warmer temperatures.


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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