12/27/10 — Slush, then ice keep county sliding

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Slush, then ice keep county sliding

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 27, 2010 1:46 PM

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Addison DeVaul, 3, tastes a snowball that she made Sunday in the aftermath of an overnight snowstorm. Wayne County residents woke up to a blanket of about 5 to 8 inches of snow and then watched as flurries continued most of the afternoon. They were not housebound, though, using the day off to enjoy everything from sledding to building snowmen.

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A young man strolls down Chestnut Street in downtown Goldsboro late Sunday afternoon. The town resembled a winter wonderland after snow covered the city Christmas evening and most of Sunday.

Gusty winds and sub-freezing temperatures could hinder Wayne County's efforts today to dig its way out of as much as 11 inches of snow that fell late Saturday night and throughout the day Sunday.

Goldsboro was blanketed by 10 inches of snow and Pikeville by 11, according to the National Weather Service's office in Raleigh. Official totals were not available for other areas of the county. However, the entire county was forecast to receive anywhere from 8 to 10 inches.

The snow forced numerous closings including churches and businesses across the county.

The storm hit on what is normally one of the busier shopping days of the year as stores featured after-Christmas sales, forcing Berkeley Mall to close Sunday, with other retailers opening late and closing early. Snow plows were busy this morning, though, clearing parking lots as businesses hoped to capture some after-holiday traffic.

Target opened at 7 a.m. to accommodate Christmas bargain hunters Sunday, but closed early at 4 p.m. The store opened on time this morning and is expected to close at its normal time tonight.

"It was a little slower than normal, but I was a little surprised about how much traffic that we did have," store manager Tessa Bassford said.

It will be at least Tuesday before conditions improve enough to begin melting the ice and snow. While temperatures will struggle to reach 33 today, the direct sunlight could cause some melting.

Temperatures are expected to continue to moderate through the week, reaching the low to mid-50s by Friday and 67 by Sunday.

"There shouldn't be all that much melting (today)," said Katie Roussy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. "We are not expecting the temperatures to get close to freezing. There might be some because of the sun. There will be more significant melting on Tuesday."

Winds could be an issue, she added.

"With the blowing snow, it could cause power outages because of snow on branches."

On Sunday, Tri-County Electric Cooperative reported there were about 2,800 outages in Wayne, Duplin and Lenoir counties. Bob Kornegay, manager of membership and marketing, said the outages in Wayne County were isolated and scattered and due mostly to branches falling on power lines.

"It wasn't anything too bad," he said.

Progress Energy officials said that 950 of its customers were without power until about midnight Sunday. There were no outages reported today.

The town of Pikeville was without power from around 7 a.m. until about noon Sunday, Pikeville-Pleasant Grove Fire Chief Ken Jones said. Otherwise, the town was quiet and no other problems were reported despite the 11 inches of snow.

Several firefighters spent part of the day Sunday at the fire station, he said. There were no calls, he aid.

"There were not many people out," he said. "People stayed in, and there are not a lot of people out this morning, which is good."

Jones said the last storm of this size he could remember was in 1979 or 1980 when schools were closed for two weeks.

As of this morning, DOT crews had scraped Pikeville-Princeton Road, but other roads through town had not been cleared, he said.

Things were quiet, too, in Mount Olive, police Chief Ralph Schroeder said.

Schroeder said he did not know of any power outages and that there had been only a few accidents -- mostly vehicles that had slid off the road when drivers tried to stop too fast.

A winter weather advisory continues through today with widespread icy conditions expected on roads and sidewalks. A winter weather advisory means that snow, slush and ice-covered roads will result in treacherous driving conditions across the state and driving is being discouraged.

The N.C. Department of Transportation is warning motorists to drive carefully and to watch for black ice on all highways.

Roads across the state were covered in snow. Crews spread salt and sand on roads Wednesday and Thursday to provide traction and help with the snow removal process. However, motorists were urged to use extreme caution if they have to drive tonight and Tuesday morning. Bridges and overpasses tend to freeze before the roads and could be slick.

Those who must drive should be prepared for slippery roads. Motorists are urged to slow down and to use extra caution. Drivers also should be aware of the potential for downed tree limbs and power lines caused by a combination of gusty winds and snow in trees.

DOT also is encouraging motorists to "know before they go" about road conditions by calling 511, the state's toll-free travel information line, or visiting the department's online Traveler Information Management System. Residents may also get updates on the department's winter weather response by following DOT on Twitter.

In Wayne County, DOT crews have worked around the clock spreading a salt brine solution on county roads. The county has used 250 tons of salt and more than 100,000 gallons of the salt brine solutions since last Thursday, said Luther Thompson, DOT county maintenance supervisor.

Thompson said the salt brine solution had made it easier to clear the roads and bridges.

"We had the majority of the primary roads cleared by yesterday afternoon," Thompson said. "There are still some icy spots. We also got to some of the secondary roads. However, the majority are still covered with snow and ice."

DOT crews will spend today working on the icy spots on the primary roads and will begin cleanup of the secondary roads, Thompson said. Along with the 20 pieces of DOT equipment on the road, several contractor motor-graders were being used to held clean the streets.

Within Goldsboro's city limits, crews also spent the day Sunday clearing streets, some of them two or three times as snow continued to fall throughout the day, public works director Neil Bartlett said.

However, he said, by the time crews stopped work for the day, about 7:30 p.m., most of the main roads had been cleared.

"We made sure that every neighborhood had access to a major street," Bartlett said. "We were not able to get to all of the side streets and cul-de-sacs. But we felt everything went pretty well. And with the sun on the roads today, the streets should be in pretty good shape, especially by midday."

Still, he acknowledged black ice was a problem this morning and likely would be again Tuesday, and said crews would be out putting salt and sand down again on trouble spots like bridges and hills.

Skies are expected to be mostly sunny today with a high near 33 and a west wind between 16 and 18 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. It should be mostly clear tonight, with a low around 19 with a west wind between 8 and 13 mph.

Sunny conditions are forecast for Tuesday with a high near 37 and a west wind between 8 and 10 mph. Tuesday night should be mostly clear, with a low around 21 and a west wind around 7 mph.

Temperatures will reach into the low to mid-40s Wednesday and Thursday with lows each night in the mid to low 20s.

Friday should be partly sunny, with a high near 54 and a low that night of around 43.

New Year's Day is expected to be mostly cloudy with a high near 64 with nighttime low of around 52.

There is 30 percent chance of showers Sunday with a high near 67.