01/11/11 — Goldsboro battles ice crystals, but other parts of county see snow

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Goldsboro battles ice crystals, but other parts of county see snow

By Steve Herring, Phyllis Moore and Catherin Shepard
Published in News on January 11, 2011 1:46 PM

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Peggy Taylor sprays de-icer on her windshield this morning in Goldsboro. The area was blanketed with ice last night.

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This car was involved in an accident at a sharp curve on Emmaus Church Road in southern Wayne County. Icy roads sent many vehicles sliding off roadways across the county Monday night and early today.

A winter storm crossing the state left Wayne County under a thin sheet of ice today but much of the anticipated snow fell elsewhere.

The storm forced the closure of the county public schools for a second day. Wayne Community College also was closed for both day and evening classes and Mount Olive College was operating on a three-hour delay, with classes starting at 11 a.m. A Wayne County Reads event scheduled for tonight has been postponed.

The state Department of Transportation said the winter weather made major roads hazardous throughout the state.

"The road conditions are very dire at this point," Joe Turner, a state DOT maintenance engineer in Raleigh, said before dawn today. "The roads are very bad. We urge people to stay at the house."

Gov. Beverly Perdue declared a state of emergency on Monday and also urged people to stay home. Ninety of the state's 100 counties were under some level of warning, watch or advisory.

Although nearly every part of the state was affected in some way, the brunt of the storm hit the western and southern mountains. The National Guard was mobilized in Moore, Anson and Richmond counties Monday night, and soldiers were prepared to be on active duty for several days, helping with transportation and any rescue missions.

The storm brought snow even to areas accustomed to dustings at most, dropping recorded levels of 5 inches or more in coastal counties.

"It's white, everything right now is white," said Autumn Witchen, who lives about 20 miles northwest of Wilmington in Delco. "I've got a ruler in my yard right now, and it shows we've got 7 1/2 inches."

Although many local streets and roads were slickened by ice, most were passable. Officials with the state Highway Patrol could not be reached for comment on how many accidents had been caused by the storm, but at least one multi-car pileup on I-795 was reported this morning. No one was reported injured.

Highway crews were out early, scraping roads. Many roads had been covered with salt in preparation for the storm.

Wayne Memorial Hospital treated six people for injuries sustained in weather-related car accidents, and four people injured after slipping on ice, hospital spokesman Amy Cain said.

The snow that started falling Monday afternoon was heavier in the southern parts of the state. Little snow fell in northern Wayne but the Mount Olive area had several inches. Duplin County schools were closed today and county offices were also shut down.

No power outages were reported, according to Progress Energy officials.

A winter storm warning remains in effect until 4 p.m. this afternoon.

Periods of light freezing rain are expected to taper to a light dreezing drizzle later in the day, deminishing by evening. Today's high tempertaure will be near 36 with a north wind between 6 and 10 mph. There is a 50 percent chance of precipitation is 50.

Skies will be cloudy during the early evening before gradually clearing with a low around 27 with a west wind between 5 and 11 mph.

The forecast is for sunny conditions Wednesday with a high near 40. It will be windy with a west wind between 11 and 17 mph and gusts as high as 31 mph. It will be mostly clear Wednesday night with a low around 21.

Wayne County Sheriff's Office Capt. Tom Effler said dispatchers had received only a few weather-related calls through this morning.

"Most of the time traffic's going to go to Highway Patrol," he said.

Although traffic was slow and few people were out, some folks maintained their regular routines.

Icy roads didn't keep Sam Armwood from stopping by the Mount Olive Piggly Wiggly for breakfast about 8 a.m. this morning. A long-distance truck driver, Armstrong was more worried about the other drivers who might be on the road today.

"Stay home. If you don't have to be out, stay home," he said.

The Southern Belle restaurant in Mount Olive, a haven for the early-morning breakfast crowd, was closed and there were only a few cars at Wal-Mart.

At the Piggly Wiggly clerk Hampton Lee was busy stocking bread shelves decimated by heavy Monday shopping. About the only items remaining on the shelves were dinner rolls.

"The shelves are so bare you can lay on them," said Manager Scott King.