01/26/04 — Weather

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By Karinne Young
Published in News on January 26, 2004 2:01 PM

The results of the first major ice storm in several years greeted Wayne County residents this morning, forcing schools and several businesses to close. More of the same is expected overnight through Tuesday morning with the possibility of an additional quarter inch or more of ice accumulation locally.

Law enforcement officers were busy responding to numerous wrecks and fender-benders, while tow trucks also fished vehicles out of ditches.

County and Goldsboro officials started the morning by calling for a two-hour delay but later decided to close for the day.

School officials were evaluating roads today and keeping a wary eye on forecasts for tonight, said Stan Alleyne, a spokesman for the county schools. If administrators decide to cancel school Tuesday, they will most likely decide early enough to notify parents this evening, he said.

Goldsboro City Manager Richard Slozak said city crews were out applying sand and salt to the heavily traveled roads but not on side streets.

Progress Energy spokes-man Keith Westbrook reported no major problems as of this morning. "We've been very fortunate," he said. "It has been relatively peaceful."

He said that 100 crew members are on standby in the Wayne and Wilson area in case of emergency. The company usually has about 40 for the area.

Wayne Memorial Hospital also reported few ice-related injuries. The nursing supervisor said the hospital was seeing normal activity for a Monday morning.

Drivers who ventured out this morning found ice coating every outdoor surface, turning side roads and even major thoroughfares into skating rinks. Bridges and overpasses, despite attempts at sanding and salting, were still slick and parking lots were glazed.

It began benignly enough when fat fluffy flakes began falling around noon Sunday. It soon switched over to sleet, then changed to freezing rain.

The state Department of Transportation, trying to head off some of the trouble, had sanded or salted most overpasses by Sunday morning. "We started out early with a mix of salt and sand prior to storm's arrival, and it seemed to help a lot," said Ricky Bell, the county's maintenance engineer. "We may do another mix of salt and sand this afternoon and into the night, if needed."

One of the problem areas was Arrington Bridge Road where vehicles could not get up the hills, he added. Crews had pulled 12-hour shifts since being told the weather was going to be bad.

The city of Goldsboro also got an early start, according to Joe Sawyer, the general maintenance director. Crews were working today and are on standby if needed tonight, he said. Salt won't work below a certain temperature and what is on the ground is not high enough to use plows, he said.

Steve Harned, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, said the icy weather was expected to continue until later tonight with an additional quarter inch of ice possible. A quarter inch is the point where it can begin to bring down trees and power lines, he added.

Initially, forecasters believed a second batch of rain moving into the area would arrive after temperatures had warmed. But, said Harned, "We'll be hard-pressed to get above freezing today.

"It's possible the freezing rain could continue through the evening before ending overnight sometime.

"Tuesday we'll begin drying up and may even see some sun in the afternoon. The temperatures could reach 40; that doesn't seem like much."