01/28/14 — Bracing for snow

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Bracing for snow

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on January 28, 2014 1:46 PM

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North Carolina Department of Transportation workers Shannon Street, Shawn Strickland, Roger Peeden and Tommy Merrill get plows ready early this morning in Wayne County. DOT employees will be working around the clock to keep the highways open after the snow starts falling.

Wayne County was bracing today for between four and eight inches of snow as the latest blast of arctic weather moves through the area.

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning from noon today through 9 a.m. Wednesday for much of eastern and central North Carolina.

Today's high temperature is not expected to make it to freezing, with tonight's low falling to around 16 degrees.

Residents can expect to see light snow flurries between late morning and 2 p.m. with heavier snowfall between 5 p.m. today and 2 a.m. Wednesday, said Jonathan Blaes, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Raleigh office.

Accumulation should begin by mid-afternoon. The surge of steady and "prettiest" is expected late this afternoon as people are sitting down to dinner, he said.

The snowfall is expected to end before daybreak or earlier, Blaes said.

"We do expect to see some sleet mixed in at times," he added.

The more snow/sleet mixture may limit the potential for significant snow accumulations, he said.

The mixture is expected to change back over to all snow by evening.

Sleet will also make driving more hazardous since it is slower to melt than snow, he said.

In an attempt to get ahead of the weather, the Goldsboro Public Works Department and the North Carolina Department of Transportation were gearing this morning up to plow the roads and to spread brine across the major roads.

"We have five snow plows and two salt and sand trucks ready to go," Public Works Director Jose Martinez said. "We are holding off until (today) for our snow plan."

Once snow begins to fall, Public Works employees will begin to plow the busiest city-maintained streets before moving on to secondary streets.

"Most of our main streets are DOT streets though, and they will do their own streets," Martinez said.

NCDOT-maintained streets include U.S. 70, Ash Street and other main thoroughfares such as Wayne Memorial Drive and Berkeley Boulevard.

Public Works employees will only plow sections of NCDOT roads needed to get to other city-maintained streets, Martinez said.

Public Works employees and NCDOT workers will spray salt and brine mixtures to clear ice away from the roads as well as sidewalks throughout the snowfall.

NCDOT trucks began spreading brine early Monday to get to all of the roads needed and have shifts ready to plow throughout the night, NCDOT Communications Officer Jennifer Garifo said.

"We began spreading salt brine on our primary streets (Monday) all across Eastern North Carolina, including Wayne County," Ms. Garifo said.

She said trucks are ready to start rolling as soon as they are needed, and that drivers will work shifts throughout the night.

"We have plenty of salt on hand and we'll have crews working all night focusing on the interstate, then the U.S. and N.C. highways and on down," Ms. Garifo said.

Goldsboro residents have also been preparing for the freeze. Grocery stores have been busy stocking and restocking shelves of bread and milk as news of the snow spreads among shoppers.

"(The bread and milk aisles) are destroyed. I doubt we have much left. I'm surprised we have any frozen food left," Kevin Davis, customer service representative at Carlie C's, said.

"I can see 30 people in line I have to take care of."

Jack Fleeger, Harris Teeter store manager, said the store still has both bread and milk available, but business has been busy since forecasters started spreading the news.

"We had a decent amount in the morning. They overwhelmed us when they got off work last night around 5 p.m. It's been busy since," he said.

The reaction of Mount Olive residents has followed the same routine.

"We've had several phone calls asking about bread and milk," Mount Olive Piggly Wiggly cashier Miranda Quinn said.

"As soon as the bread man came in, (customers) got the bread off the shelf."

She said that she usually sees shoppers in as early as 6:30 a.m. but not in the quantities that they had this morning.

Martinez warns that once the weather hits residents should wait until the roads to their houses are plowed before attempting to drive.

"Only leave the house if you need to," he said. "A lot of people confuse need with want. Stay home."

Martinez said if people are off the beaten track it may take more time to reach them.

"Give us a day if you are on a back road off of a back road," he said. "We will get to you. If you have an emergency, call EMS."

Martinez advised using one's own best judgment when deciding to go out.

"If you have a four-wheel-drive, you can slow down and plan your trip on major roads that get plowed first," Martinez said. "Also increase your following distance so you aren't too close to the guy in front of you."