Robeson to duck worst of winter storm

Jack Frederick - Staff writer

LUMBERTON — While Robeson County residents were disappointed that they missed out on a white Christmas, they are probably pleased to know we will dodge the worst of a major storm that will bring some snow but also ice and freezing rain to much of North Carolina.

That is the prediction of the experts at the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

With the temperatures dropping since Christmas Day and wet weather moving in, parts of the state are expected to receive enough rain to make the roads dangerous. Mark Bacon, a forecaster for the weather service, said the conditions won’t be enough to cause major disruptions in Robeson County.

“I do think there is going to be some freezing rain, but we are only looking at one hundredth of an inch,” Bacon said.

One of the biggest threats of freezing rain was on Tuesday night and into this morning, when the temperatures were predicted to drop as low as 30 degrees with a 30 percent chance of precipitation. Freezing rain is possible this morning but not beyond 10 a.m. As the day unfolds temperatures will creep up and the threat of rain will go down.

The next threat of some ice is Thursday.

“I think probably the event to keep an eye on is Thursday night,” Bacon said. “There is a slightly better chance of freezing rain and an equal chance of a hundredth of an inch.”

On Thursday night, the low is expected to be 26 with a 30 percent chance of precipitation and wind blowing from 8 to 10 mph. Bacon downplayed the probability of problems, saying it takes at least a one tenth to a quarter inch of freezing rain before tree limbs fall, causing power outages, or ice to pose a threat to motorists.

Duke Energy was preparing Tuesday afternoon in case there are outages.

“We have a detailed storm response plan and are prepared to respond if severe weather occurs,” Duke Energy spokesperson Danielle Peoples said. “Line technicians and support personnel are available throughout our service areas and are ready to respond to outages and emergencies, if they occur.”

The company has been checking equipment, supplies and inventories in case repairs are needed.

Because of the Christmas holiday, a reporter could not reach utility officials with Red Springs, Lumberton or Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation.

Miracle King, spokesperson for the North Carolina Division of Transportation, said she was unaware of any plans to brine roads in Robeson County. The county office for the DOT couldn’t be reached on Tuesday.

“Thus far, outside of the Triangle, no one has said anything,” King said. “Everyone is waiting to see the early Thursday forecast.”

The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that crews were treating bridges and overpasses with brine in the Raleigh area as a precaution.

Robeson County will watch as other parts of the state receive much of the icy weather, but the cold temperatures won’t be going away. The temperatures are expected to continue to drop and by New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day might reach their lowest since February 2015.

The early predictions are for a low around 25 on Sunday and a high of 39 on Monday with the chance that it drops to 15 degrees during the first night of 2018.

Jack Frederick

Staff writer

Jack Frederick can be reached at 910-416-5649.

Jack Frederick can be reached at 910-416-5649.