01/25/13 — Ice, ice maybe? Likely.

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Ice, ice maybe? Likely.

By Steve Herring and Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 25, 2013 1:46 PM

With a winter ice storm approaching, precautions were being taken today by local officials to minimize the storm's impact, including the early closing of the county's public schools.

Wayne County is expected to escape the brunt of the storm, but still will see some sleet and freezing rain by late afternoon or early evening, which could make driving hazardous.

State Department of Transportation crews were busy this morning applying a brine solution to the major secondary roads that were not completed during the first round of spraying on Thursday.

The central and western parts of the state were under a winter weather advisory from noon today until midnight.

The forecast for Wayne calls for a light wintery mixture of rain ending as areas of light freezing drizzle later this evening. Light snow is possible, too. Like the storm last weekend, it is a fast moving system, but lacks the moisture associated with the first storm.

Northern Wayne is likely to be the hardest hit by the storm, with the biggest concern black ice that could form on roadways as temperatures fall through the night.

There is a 90 percent chance of rain today with a high around 37 falling to lows in the mid-20s tonight. Little or no snow accumulation is expected.

The rain is forecast to fall between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. before turning into a rain/sleet mixture. However, Ryan Ellis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Raleigh, said the rain could start later in the afternoon.

Sprinkles are likely before 9 p.m., then a chance of drizzle between 9 p.m. and midnight.

Conditions will clear under sunny skies Saturday and Sunday as temperature nudge up to near 42, climbing into the low 50s by Monday.

It is the second storm within a week to threaten the area with snow and ice.

"They are two totally different storms," Ellis said. "The first had more rain ahead of it. This one will have a lot less precipitation. You are right on the southern edge. You may get a little bit of sleet and ice in the northern part of the county.

"There is enough influence from the ocean to keep the bad stuff off. I would not be surprised if you did not get anything at all. Yes, you have a chance. Is it a great one? No. I do think that who will get some rain and some freezing rain. It will start later in the afternoon and go into the evening."

If nothing else, the conditions are right for black ice to form on the roads, he said.

"That is probably the greatest danger," he said.

Often low-impact storms like the one headed this way can often be more dangerous because people take them for granted and ignore the threat of black ice, Ellis said.

"I'd rather deal with six inches of snow than this little bit of ice," said Luther Thompson, DOT county maintenance supervisor.

Brine was sprayed on all of the county's primary roads Thursday and on many of the major secondary roads.

Thompson said crews would take advantage of the window before the storm to finish up the major secondary roads on their list.

"Then we will come back in standby mode and monitor the weather and address the issues," he said.

Black ice is the main concern even though the brine has been applied, since any rain ahead of the storm could dilute its effectiveness, Thompson said.

"People still need to take precautions and take their time," he said. "I hope they take care and not assume just because we put brine out that there won't be any problems."

Across the county, reactions to the impending weather varied.

Because of the four-day work week, most county government office were already closed today. All county offices including the landfill, convenience sites and library will close at 4 p.m. today. All court activities will close at 4 p.m. as well. The library, landfill and convenience centers will be closed Saturday.

GATEWAY planned to stop its bus and van services at 3 p.m. this afternoon. The van service will resume at 8 a.m. Saturday and the buses at 9 a.m. depending on the severity of the weather.

Wayne Community College announced this morning the campus would close at noon today.

Wayne County Public Schools decided late Thursday it would close school three hours early today.

Officials also canceled all after-school programs and school-sponsored events for today and Saturday. This includes all scheduled athletic practices and competitions, 4-H programs, remediation, meetings, plays and parent seminars.

Ken Derksen, director of communication services for the district, said schools hosting the SAT test on Saturday morning will reschedule for a later date.

One of the events involving a large student delegation on Saturday will also be rescheduled, said Selena Bennett, executive director of Communities in Schools. Teens and Attorneys Partnership for Success, or TAPS, was to kick off with an organizational meeting and workshop Saturday afternoon in preparation for an upcoming mock trial event. A make-up date will be announced later.

Not every event planned for this weekend has been canceled, however.

In the case of the Miss Goldsboro Pageant, the show must go on, said Kimberly Best, director of the event.

It will still be held at 7 p.m. at the Paramount Theatre, she said. Because the Paramount is booked months in advance, she said it would be difficult to secure another date for the local Miss America preliminary pageant.

Tickets are still available, she added.

The third annual Praxis Film Festival will also still be held tonight and Saturday in Moffatt Auditorium at Wayne Community College.

"We're running," said Jack Kannan, executive director of the WCC Foundation. "People need a place to go, to forget about the weather.

"The film festival is a great place to get warm -- get some hot chocolate, apple cider. We're definitely open Friday night and all day Saturday."

The free festival features 21 short and full-length films. The event kicks off tonight with a reception at 7 p.m. and movies starting at 8 p.m. For a complete schedule of films, which continue Saturday starting at 10 a.m., visit the WCC website, www.waynecc.edu.