State Responds to First Major Winter Storm of Season
Governor Pat McCrory briefed citizens from the State Emergency Operations Center Friday morning on the response to the latest winter storm impacts. The governor urged residents and businesses to be safe and monitor local forecasts as the season’s first significant winter storm continues impacting North Carolina.
“It’s still very early in this storm,” said Governor McCrory. “We expect more precipitation across the state throughout today and much of tomorrow. Now is not the time to let down your guard.”
Forecasts call for a major winter storm to continue passing through North Carolina today and Saturday with predictions of a combination of snow, sleet and freezing rain across much of the state. The northwestern part of the state and Triad area could see up to 12" of snow in some places. The central part of the state is expected to be more of a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain with up to several inches of snow and as much as a quarter inch of ice in some areas. Eastern and coastal counties will likely see heavy rain with some frozen precipitation mixed in. There may be minor flooding around the area of Kinston and the Neuse River. High surf conditions are anticipated and there is the potential for minor to moderate flooding north of Cape Hatteras. Strong, gusty winds are expected across much of the state that may cause downed power lines and power outages.
By mid-morning, about 6,000 homes were without power across the state, mostly in the mountains and Charlotte region. Utility companies have staged crews across the state to respond quickly to power outages. One shelter is open in Moore County, and others are on standby around the state.
The wintery conditions have caused four weather-related motor vehicle fatalities as of Friday morning, the latest from a crash this morning on I-95 in Johnston County when a driver lost control of a truck and crossed both southbound lanes. Wednesday evening the State Highway Patrol responded to a head-on collision in Wilkes County near North Wilkesboro where one vehicle lost control due to slick conditions and traveled into the path of another vehicle. A Wilkes County man who was a passenger in one of the vehicles succumbed to his injuries last night. A Forsyth County woman died after losing control of her car on a sleet and snow-covered road and struck another vehicle head on. In Stokes County, a woman died after she lost control of her car on a snow-covered road and ended up in a creek.
McCrory activated the State Emergency Response Team yesterday and declared a State of Emergency late on Wednesday due to the high volume of snow and ice accumulations forecast. The State Highway Patrol has responded to more than 570 calls for assistance since midnight.
“We cannot stress enough how treacherous the road conditions may be,” said Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “Please stay off the roads if at all possible. If you must travel, please plan ahead, check your local forecast and road conditions and practice safe driving habits.”
Governor McCrory said state agencies began preparing for the storm Tuesday. North Carolina Emergency Management has been working with counties to assess and mobilize resources and state transportation crews have been treating roadways.
Other storm response measures include:
- All State Highway Patrol Troopers activated or on standby
- 100 National Guard soldiers to work in ‘catch teams’ to help locate and assist stranded motorists
- Chainsaw crews are on standby to quickly clear blocked roadways
- NCDOT crews placed nearly 2 million gallons of salt brine in an effort to help prevent ice from bonding to the roadway, and have also used more than 5,500 tons of salt and more than 3,100 tons of sand/salt to treat roads across the state
- NCDOT has staged extra equipment and personnel near typical travel trouble spots along I-77 in Surry County; I-40 in McDowell County and I-26 in Polk and Henderson counties.
- Implemented adverse weather policy for state employees to help them remain safe
Earlier this week, the governor declared a State of Emergency and waived certain vehicle weight and service hour requirements to expedite storm response. Both orders are in effect for 30 days but could be canceled earlier if conditions warrant. Click the links below to view the Executive Orders:
Executive Order No. 85 Declaration of a State of Emergency By the Governor of the State of North Carolina
Executive Order No. 86 Temporary Suspension of Motor Vehicle Regulations to Ensure Restoration of Utility Services and Transporting Essentials
“We are very fortunate in North Carolina to have such a seasoned group of professionals with a proven track record serving in our emergency response team,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. “They were prepared for this storm and are responding to it and are ready for any challenges it might present.”
More information about storm response and recovery efforts can be found on ReadyNC.org or by following NC Emergency on Facebook and Twitter. Real-time information about weather and road conditions and other emergency preparedness actions can be found via the free ReadyNC mobile app.