01/07/11 — Snow in forecast ... again

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Snow in forecast ... again

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on January 7, 2011 1:46 PM

Wayne County could see more snow, if predictions by the National Weather Service prove accurate.

A winter weather advisory is scheduled for Wayne and much of central North Carolina from 4 p.m. this afternoon through 4 a.m. Saturday.

Wayne received nearly a foot of snow the day after Christmas and cold temperatures kept the white stuff from melting for several days.

Weather Service reports indicate that the county's residents could see anywhere from just a dusting to as much as two inches of snow accumulation. Some areas along a narrow corridor of U.S. 64 could see heavier snowfall.

The Weather Service predicts an area of light mixed rain and snow will develop over the southern and western Piedmont region this afternoon and then spread eastward through the state. The precipitation will arrive in eastern North Carolina as a light mix of rain and snow late this evening, around 5 or 6 p.m., and change to mostly snow before tapering off around midnight, meteorologists predict.

Locations affected by the overnight storm extend along and north of a line from Albemarle to Southern Pines, Lillington, Smithfield and to Goldsboro. The area includes the Triad, the Triangle and Rocky Mount and Wilson, according to the advisory.

Temperatures in the low 40s for today are expected to drop to below freezing overnight after the snowfall ends, freezing water on roadways.

A winter weather advisory means that periods of precipitation will cause travel difficulties. "A slippery mess" of frozen slush, snow and black ice will make travel dangerous tonight through Saturday morning, according to the weather service. Drivers are urged to use caution, expect slippery road surfaces and limited visibility and stay off the roads if at all possible.

Wayne County road crews began loading their equipment today in preparation for the winter weather, but will not be spraying brine on the roads before the storm hits tonight.

The forecast changed abruptly this morning, county maintenance engineer Chris Pendergraph said.

"Yesterday we were told we wouldn't have anything," he said.

But the plan of action did not change with the news that Wayne County could receive a bit of snow, because the storm will begin as rain, and the rain would only wash the brine off the roads, Pendergraph explained.

The water in the brine solution sprayed on roads evaporates in about an hour, leaving dissolved salt crystals. When the snow falls and reforms the brine, the mix creates a barrier that keeps snow from sticking to the surface.

But when rain hits the brine solution, it just washes it off the roads -- wasting taxpayers' money, Pendergraph said.

However, the local road crews will likely be out working Saturday and Sunday to brine the roads in preparation for yet another round of winter weather expected Monday and Tuesday.

"That's the big one that we're keeping our eyes on," Pendergraph said.

Meteorologists are tracking a low pressure system moving from the northern Gulf of Mexico that is expected to impact the North Carolina coastal plains Monday and Tuesday. The National Weather Service predicts that there is "a good chance" of additional wintery precipitation across central North Carolina overnight Monday, meteorologists in Raleigh said.

The weather service forecast currently predicts a 40 percent chance of rain and snow Monday beginning around 1 p.m. with a high near 39 degrees. The chance for a rain/snow mix increases to 50 percent Monday night, with a high temperature of 31 degrees predicted. There is also a 40 percent chance of rain and snow predicted for Tuesday, with a high near 38 degrees.

Wayne County Public School officials reported no changes to the Friday school schedule as of News-Argus deadline. Follow updated closings and delays online at http://www.newsargus.com.