Staff and wire report
LUMBERTON — Robeson County was expected to start feeling the effects of a winter storm by mid-morning today, but it’s impact was not expected to be significant and it’s stay will be short, according the National Weather Service.
The rest of the state might not be so lucky.
According to the National Weather Service, there is a 60 percent chance of precipitation in Robeson County today, with temperatures in the afternoon in the high-30s and the possibility of sleet or snow.
But local officials have prepared.
The Public Schools of Robeson County will be sending students home at 1 p.m. today so that buses can complete their routes and avoid any “black ice” that might appear on roads.
Charles Britt, the interim assistant county manager and Emergency Services director, said local officials are keeping a close eye on the weather as it approaches.
“From the information I’ve received, we might only receive sleet,” Britt said. “The satellite outlook showed 34-degree weather today. I’m not anticipating us getting much of anything. We’re still monitoring the situation and unless things drastically change quickly we’re just going to continue to watch.”
Britt said people who depend on space heaters for warmth need to be cautious, and to keep them away from items that are flammable.
Gene McKethan, county maintenance engineer with the state Department of Transportation, said crews have been working to keep roads clear of ice.
“We have sprayed 90 percent of all major highways in the county with a salt brine solution,” McKethan said. “That will help stop freezing precipitation from bonding with the pavement and becoming ice during the onset of this storm.”
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for most of the state until late tonight or early Saturday. The winter weather advisory doesn’t include Robeson County.
“A good chunk of North Carolina should see some glaze,” meteorologist Gail Hartfield said.
Forecasters say up to 4 inches of snow is possible at the higher elevations of the northwestern mountains around Boone.
Only 1 or 2 inches of snow and sleet were expected elsewhere.
The highest peaks of the North Carolina mountains could see a few inches of snow. Elsewhere, forecasters expect a half inch to an inch of snow and sleet and a coating of ice of about a tenth to two-tenths of an inch on trees and power lines. More freezing rain should fall to the south and snow and sleet to the north.
Accumulations should be light, but for people in the Research Triangle area, the idea of light frozen precipitation conjures up memories of Jan 19, 2005. On that day, a brief snowfall melted and refroze, leaving local streets and roads with a glaze that led to an epic traffic gridlock. Some 3,000 Wake County school children were stranded at 56 schools.
Hartfield said there will be travel problems, but said the storm doesn’t look like a major power outage event. She said sunshine will help with road conditions on Saturday.