Tri-County deals with snow, slush

Feb. 13, 2014 @ 06:20 PM

The half-foot of snow that blanketed the Tri-County Wednesday caused traffic chaos on the roads and widespread cancellations across the state.

The snow started falling in Vance County around 1:30 p.m. and turned into freezing rain several hours later at about 8 p.m.

Brian Short, director of Emergency Operations in Vance County, said an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow was forecast to start falling mid-afternoon Thursday and continue through the evening.

He said the county received 6 to 7 inches of snow and roughly one-quarter inch of ice Wednesday, but additional snow could bring snowfall totals up to 10 inches or higher.

Short said most main roads in Henderson are drivable, but the secondary roads in the county are absolutely treacherous.

“People need to stay home and off the roads because the more people that are out there driving around who don’t need to be, the harder it is for road crews to do their jobs,” he said.

Emergency Operations is still prepared to open a single, centralized shelter at Eaton-Johnson Middle School, but Short said it hasn’t been opened because of the few number of customers who reported power outages Thursday.

He said as many as 4,500 outages were reported in Vance County, but the number bounced up and down to around 700 outages throughout the day.

“Restoration efforts seem to be moving quickly, so you see how fast it’s coming back up,” he said.

Short said Emergency Operations is still prepared to open the shelter, if the additional snow creates an influx of outages.

“Another 2 to 4 inches of snow could continue to complicate that because it will add more weight to already weighted pole lines,” he said. “Right now the conditions are not such where it should be open but we are poised to do so, and if conditions worsen where we think its necessary, we will open the shelter.”

The Henderson Public Services Interim Director said his crews prepared the roads with brine and have been plowing roads since Wednesday night around 5 p.m.

“A lot of people stayed home and that helped us today,” said Frank Frazier.

He said he did not know of any abandoned vehicles towed within city limits.

In a press conference Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory said three fatalities have been reported since the storm began.

“This has been quite a challenge, but the challenge is not over because this historic storm is continuing,” McCrory said. “As we still respond to issues from the last 24 hours, we are also preparing for potential issues in the next 24 hours.”

He said the vehicles that have been abandoned are being left in place unless they are blocking the roads, but those that are blocking roads will be towed.

McCrory, in a press conference Thursday morning, said the N.C. Highway Patrol had requested towing 139 cars across the state over 36 hours, 50 of those in the Triangle.

Contact the writer at smansur@hendersondispatch.com.