LUMBERTON — As much 2 inches of snow could fall on parts of Robeson County when the latest round of wintry weather hits Wednesday.
As of 3 p.m. Tuesday, the National Weather Service office in Wilmington was predicting a 70 percent chance of rain and snow today, becoming all snow after 3 p.m. and with a high temperature near 38. Tonight’s forecast called for a chance of snow before 7 p.m. and then gradual clearing, with a low around 21.
How the snow would affect local government operations was unclear Tuesday evening. No information about closings or delays was released by municipal or county leaders.
The Public Schools of Robeson County administration was monitoring the weather, Tasha Oxendine, school district spokesperson, said about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday.
“No operational changes at this time, but we will continue to monitor the weather and be prepared to make adjustments as needed throughout the day tomorrow and as long as the weather threat continues,” Amanda Crabtree, Southeastern Health spokesperson, said in statement released at 4:11 p.m. Tuesday.
Lumbee River Electric Membership Corporation crews are on standby, said Walter White, LREMC vice president and director of Marketing. But the electric power provider was not expecting any problems related to the weather.
Any problems should occur during normal business hours because that is when the snow is expected to fall, White said. That will make it easier to respond to any power delivery interruptions.
“It’s just kind of standard procedure for us,” White said.
White urged motorists to be alert and careful while driving during bad weather. If motorists see an LREMC crew working beside a street or highway they are asked to slow down and be cautious so as to avoid an accident, he said.
North Carolina Department of Transportation crews in Robeson County were in action Tuesday preparing for the winter precipitation, said Andrew Barksdale, a state DOT spokesman. They started spreading brine on Interstate 95, U.S. 74, N.C. 211, N.C. 41 and N.C. 72. Department crews first treat highways used for the movement of commerce with the salt-and-water mixture that helps prevent ice and snow from sticking to road surfaces.
“These are our top priorities,” Barksdale said.
The brine is a solution that is 25 percent salt, Barksdale said. It is cheaper and more efficient than rock salt.
“It gives us more bang for our taxpayer buck,” he said.
The brine operation will continue until about 7 or 8 p.m. Tuesday, he said. Trouble spots, such as stretches of roadways covered with shade throughout the day, and secondary highways and roads will be treated on Tuesday if time allows.
“We will be ready before dawn, and that’s when the snow is expected to start falling,” Barksdale said Tuesday afternoon.
At that time, DOT crews will either continue the brine operation or start spreading rock salt on snow, Barksdale said. The next step will be removing snow from roadway surfaces after the salt has turned the snow and ice to slush, thus making it easier to scrape away.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory at 2:42 p.m. Tuesday for much of Southeastern North Carolina and Northeast South Carolina. The advisory was in effect from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday
“No significant freezing rain or icing is expected, however, snow may become compacted on roadways, forming slick areas,” the advisory read in part.
Wednesday’s precipitation will start as rain, become a mixture of rain and show and then turn to snow, said Michael Ross, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Wilmington. The precipitation should move out of the area by 7 p.m.
About one inch of snow is expected to fall on Lumberton, he said.
“The high end would be 2 inches,” Ross said. “The chances of that happening are one in 10.”
Northern Robeson County could get a little more snow, he said.
“It’s not going to go anywhere because the overnight temperature is expected to be about 20,” Ross said.
But, it will be sunny Thursday with a high temperature of about 44, he said.
“So it should melt away,” Ross said.
If snow falls Wednesday it will be the second time this month that Robeson County has experienced snowfall. When county residents woke up the morning of Jan. 4 they saw as much as 3 inches of snow on the ground, depending on where in the county they lived. The white winter stuff stuck around for days because of the persistent low temperatures that came with the winter storm.
The most recent snowfall to hit Robeson County before then was in February 2015. That winter blast left as much as 1 inch of snow in places around the county.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at [email protected]