01/04/18 — Black ice to make roads dangerous

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Black ice to make roads dangerous

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 4, 2018 3:52 PM

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The winter storm warning for central and eastern North Carolina has been canceled and replaced by a winter weather advisory for black ice through 7 a.m. Saturday.

A winter weather advisory for black ice means that travel will remain hazardous because of ice and compacted snow on roadways.

Prior to the onset of Wednesday's snowstorm Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for all eastern and several central North Carolina counties.

The emergency declaration will assist with storm response and recovery. It also triggers state law against charging excessive prices during an emergency.

Cooper also issued an executive order waiving truck weight, size and hours of service restrictions to ease movement of supplies and equipment.

Frigid temperatures and low wind chills will persist through the rest of the week, with the worst of the bitter cold occurring Thursday night through Saturday.

In some areas, temperatures may not top the freezing mark today and lows in the lower teens will be common across the area.

Skies will be sunny today with a high of near 30 degrees, but with wind chill values as low at 2 degrees. The nighttime low will be around 9 degrees.

It will be sunny again on Saturday with a high near 29 and a nighttime low of around 9.

Sunday will be sunny and the temperature is expected to finally surpass the freezing mark with a high of 33 degrees.

"I think what we are worried about, if the sun comes out, the problem we are having is that we have that Arctic high pressure that takes over today (Thursday)," said Mel Powers, Wayne County Office of Emergency Services director. "The sun is going to do its job, and it is going to start melting this snow, but we are still going to be below freezing."

Because of that, the snow is not going anywhere and anything wet is going to freeze back overnight, Powers said.

Powers and Luther Thompson, state Department of Transportation maintenance supervisor for the county, are encouraging residents to stay off the roads, especially after sundown.

Powers said additional EMS trucks will be on hand throughout the county to help respond to calls, and personnel are being urged to be cautious responding to calls.

"We've got an extra Wayne NET truck in the southern part of the county, we've got one in the northern part of the county and one stationed locally, which gives us three additional trucks that are going to assist going out," Powers said. "The biggest thing we're trying to tell our folks is the roads are going to be bad, and they're going to have to take their time. We know it's going ot extend their response time, but they're not helping anybody if they're sitting in the ditch."

The area gets some relief Monday and Tuesday with highs of around 51 to 52 degrees. There is a chance of rain Monday and then rain is likely Monday night.

Wayne County and Goldsboro government offices and the Community Soup Kitchen were closed today. City and county offices also will reopen at 10 a.m. Friday.

A number of convenience stores, grocery stores and restaurants were open Wednesday.

Tri-County Electric Corp. did not experience any weather-related outages overnight Wednesday, said Bob Kornegay, manager of marketing and member services.

Duke Energy Progress also reported no outages in the area.

"Once again we are being affected by extreme cold temperatures and it looks as if freezing temps will continue over the next few days," Kornegay said. "Our system has extra capacity built-in, but electric usage is running at record high levels, and we are asking our members to conserve energy.

"If we work together, we can control some of the costs that affect our electric bill and safeguard our system. Stay safe and warm."

Kornegay offered the following tips on how to conserve:

• Lower your thermostat 3 degrees and preferably leave it set at 68.

• Unplug unnecessary electric devices

• Delay the use of dishwasher, clothes dryer and washing machine from peak times -- 5 a.m. until 8 a.m. then from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m.

• Turn off lights when not in use.

• Seal window and doors.

Other state storm preparations include:

• Department of Transportation crews applied more than 1.7 million gallons of salt brine across roadways in 56 counties and have crews and equipment ready to clear ice and snow.

• State troopers are marking abandoned vehicles along the roadway and are coordinating with local law enforcement to ensure no one is left stranded in these dangerous temperatures.

• State troopers and transportation crews are working to clear disabled vehicles quickly so they don't impede traffic.

• National Guard troops are on standby and prepared to respond as needed.

• Adverse weather policy is in effect for state employees. State employees should coordinate with their supervisors.

Cooper reminded citizens to heed the advice of law enforcement officials and emergency responders to ensure everyone's safety during the storm.

"I encourage people to watch weather forecasts closely and stay off the roads when travel becomes dangerous," Cooper said. "Unnecessary travel not only puts you at risk, but it also risks the lives of emergency services and law enforcement officers who respond to help you."

Since the storm began, State Highway Patrol troopers responded to more than 1,300 calls for service across central and eastern North Carolina, including nearly 900 collisions.

While the storm moved through North Carolina quickly, the extreme cold will linger through the weekend, Cooper said.

With the combination of snow, intense cold and winds, officials are urging people to take extra precautions when outdoors and when heating their homes.

Wear multiple layers of clothing, cover any exposed skin while outside and limit time outdoors.

If you must use an alternative heat source, make sure you know how to do so safely. Never run generators or use grills indoors. Get more tips on cold weather safety from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services.

Real-time weather and road conditions and shelter openings, as well as winter safety tips, can be found on the free ReadyNC mobile app or online at readync.org.

Travelers are urged to go to drivenc.gov for up to date roadway conditions.

Motorists are reminded not to call 911 or the State Highway Patrol Communication Centers for roadway conditions.

Callers can dial 211 for information about other resources. Deaf and hard-of-hearing callers can dial 888-892-1162.

News-Argus Staff Writer Ethan Smith contributed to this report.