Snow Makes Area Roads Hazardous
A winter storm dumped three or four inches of snow on the area Tuesday, the first significant snowfall since January 2007.
Schools shut down Tuesday and will remain closed today.
Public schools on the traditional calendar were already closed for a teacher workday. All employees and students in year-round classes got the day off.
Many children took full advantage, some hitting popular spots for sledding, such as "suicide hill" on Spring Road in Southern Pines.
Moore County and central North Carolina remained under a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Tuesday, because of the large accumulations of snow, as much as eight inches in some areas.
Road conditions were expected to become extremely icy and hazarous Tuesday night and this morning. Temperatures were forecast to dip to 19 degrees, causing the slush to refreeze.
The police scanner buzzed Tuesday morning with numerous reports of cars sliding off roads into ditches and into other vehicles on Moore County's snow-covered roads. One car slid off an enbankment on N.C. 211 in Pinehurst. No serious injuries were reported in those minor accidents.
County government offices were also closed. The Moore County Board of Commissioners canceled its Tuesday meeting, which had been moved from the normal third Monday because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. It has been rescheduled for 4 p.m. Feb. 2.
While law-enforcement officers and towing companies stayed busy Tuesday morning responding to wrecks, area grocery stores were swamped Monday night, as local residents snapped up staples for snowy weather -- bread, milk and other items.
A handful of power outages were reported during the day as a result of the winter weather, according to Andy Honeycutt with Progress Energy in Aberdeen. It was mostly from tree limbs falling on power lines. In one case, a car clipped a power pole. All were restored quickly, he said.
Gov. Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for North Carolina because of the winter storm impacting most of the state. The declaration, made as a precautionary measure, enables the governor to deploy extra resources to respond to the storm.
The State Emergency Operations Center was activated Tuesday to provide support to local governments and to assess the state's needs in the coming days. The biggest impact from the storm is primarily to roads. Across the state, the Highway Patrol responded to numerous wrecks. Additional troopers were deployed to handle the additional calls.
A central theme echoed by law-enforcement officials Tuesday was: If local residents did not have to drive, they should stay at home and off the roads.
Trooper D. P. Barber with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol office in Aberdeen said troopers stayed busy all morning.
"We had quite a few wrecks this morning," Barber said. "We're asking everybody to stay off the road, if possible."
He said that the Highway Patrol was concerned about road conditions worsening into the evening and overnight. The temperature is not expected to get above freezing until Wednesday afternoon, so icy conditions should develop late Tuesday with slushy roads freezing up and creating even more hazardous driving conditions.
The N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) is working around the clock to treat and plow roads on a priority basis.
Sarah Foster, county maintenance engineer for NCDOT in Carthage, said crews were out Monday putting salt on highways and roads in preparation for the snow. About 19 employees were on hand ready to start plowing roads once the snow started falling early Tuesday morning, she said.
"We are out there with everything we've got," Foster said Tuesday morning.
She said the first priority for DOT was clearing primary roads, starting with U.S. routes and N.C. roads, before moving on to secondary roads.
"It's not supposed to get above freezing until (Wednesday)," Foster said. "We'll be working all night. We've had no problems, we're just dealing with Mother Nature."
Foster said the best thing was not to drive unless absolutely necessary.
"If you can stay at home," she said, "then you should stay at home."
Perdue praised state agencies, especially the Department of Transportation, for moving quickly in advance of the storm, particularly since Monday was a state holiday. DOT crews started treating bridges, overpasses and major highways yesterday and through last night with an anti-icing solution and began salting the roads once the precipitation began.
Locally, municipal street crews were also putting in some long hours. Southern Pines public works crews got out about 3 a.m. Tuesday, working to clear snow-covered roads, according to Tim Allen, streets and sanitation superintendent for the town.
Crews first began plowing roads and then put down salt. On Monday, the town put down a brine solution on many streets to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the road surface.
Allen said the town activated its snow plan, which calls for working down a priority list of streets, starting with main arteries, to make sure they were clear for emergency vehicles. The N.C. Department of Transportation takes care of the main highways.
Allen said his crews were hitting some of the main roads Tuesday morning, such as Morganton Road, May Street, Bennett Street, Indiana and Connecticut avenues, Pinehurst Avenue and Murray Hill Road, to name just a few.
"We try to cover as many roads as we can in every part of town so folks can get from point A to point B," Allen said.
Allen said there are spots where roads iced up before the snow fell, creating hazardous conditions. He said the worst conditions would occur Tuesday night and this morning when the slush refreezes, creating icy patches.
"It will be very dangerous," he said. "We will do what we can to clear the streets so people can travel safely."
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