Area Gets Another Round of Snow; Some Critical of Schools' Decision
Another round of winter weather Wednesday brought a bit more snow than initially expected.
It wasn't quite as bad as the situation more than two weeks ago when a storm system dumped four inches of snow on the area. Roads were still hazardous in places, and a number of wrecks occurred during the morning.
Many parents expected that the Moore County public schools would at least delay opening by two hours. Instead, schools opened on time.
That prompted some angry e-mails to The Pilot from parents questioning why schools operated on a normal schedule when other public school systems in nearly every surrounding county delayed opening or closed. The O'Neal School, the county's largest private school, was closed as well.
Superintendent Susan Purser said she took full responsibility for the situation, saying the school system always operates with the safety of its students, faculty and staff in mind.
"We missed it, and I take that very seriously and regretfully," she said. "I accept that responsibility. Our school system always tries to look out for the safety of our faculty and staff."
Complicating matters was the late onset of the storm. On Tuesday, it appeared that the county would not receive any significant snowfall, but that changed as the night wore on.
Purser said the school system had better information by being able to scout the roads during daylight hours when another winter storm brought significant snow a couple of weeks ago, making it easier to decide.
Purser said if she had known that the icing would have been as extensive as it was this time around, the school system would have responded differently.
"Weather is always clear after the fact," she said. "If I had the knowledge I had now, certainly I would have made a different call."
Even though weather forecasters were not expecting the area to receive much accumulation of snow, road crews were prepared, just in case.
Most forecasts had the likelihood of snow tracking along Moore County's western and northern borders, with little accumulation forecast for the rest of the county. Instead, one to three inches of snow fell in several areas, including the Vass and Southern Pines areas.
Tim Allen, streets and sanitation superintendent for Southern Pines, know all too well that the weatherman's predictions don't always hold true. He has lived here all his life and has worked for the town for 28 years. He had his road crews on top of things.
"It (the snow) was predicted north of here," he said. "But anytime they call for precipitation, we prepare for it like a major event. I've lived here long enough to always be prepared for the unexpected."
He said his crews put down salt brine Tuesday night and were "ready to roll" Wednesday morning to put down salt. He said the salt brine helped a lot with the main arteries. There were reports of trouble spots, mainly on hilly secondary roads and shady areas. Town crews treated those roads with salt in the morning.
Sarah Foster, county maintenance engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said her crews were also ready for the unexpected.
"The forecast was for areas north and west," she said. "We were thinking areas like Robbins, and it turned out to be more in areas like Vass."
She had 10 employees out working overnight Tuesday putting down salt brine on the major U.S. and N.C. roadways. Snow plows were out in force Wednesday morning.
"We were out working doing everything we could do," she said.
The State Highway Patrol was out working "a bunch of minor stuff," said Sgt. Tony McNair about the numerous traffic accidents throughout the county that troopers responded to during the morning. He pointed out that no serious personal injuries or fatalities were reported.
"It was a lot of sliding off the road with mostly property damage," McNair said. "Nothing serious. It was a typical snow-ice type situation."
Foster said her crews were preparing to take care of any icy areas Thursday morning, as temperatures dipped to about 18 during the night.
"With the snow melting and the cold temperatures (Wednesday night), we are expecting some icy spots in the morning," she said. "We have crews coming in the morning to handle that."
Contact Hunter Chase at 693-2478 or by e-mail at hchase@ thepilot.com. John Krahnert can be reached at 693-2473 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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