Robeson back on snow watch

By: Staff and wire report

LUMBERTON — It’s a winter weather déjà vu for the people of Robeson County.

On the two-week anniversary of a snowfall that blanketed the Robeson County, residents on Wednesday were again on a snow watch with weather forecasters calling for another round of the white, cold stuff to hit Wednesday afternoon and evening. The threat has forced The Robesonian to publish Thursday’s edition early, on Wednesday afternoon.

The National Weather Service in Wilmington issued a Winter Storm Warning at 10:13 a.m. Wednesday that was effective until 10 p.m. The advisory said Robeson County could expect up to 2 inches of snow.

“A Winter Storm Warning for snow means severe winter weather conditions are occurring. If you must travel, keep an extra flashlight, food and water in your vehicle in case of an emergency. The latest road conditions for the state you are calling from can be obtained from http://DriveNC.gov,” the warning read in part.

The county was getting a mix of rain and sleet at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, with the forecast for it to turn over into snow at any time. The overnight low temperature was predicted for 19 degrees.

Thursday’s forecast called for sunny skies, with a high near 42 and wind chill values as low as 10. Skies are expected to be sunny and high temperatures should be in the mid- to high-50s on Friday and Saturday.

The weather threat was having an effect on local institutions early Wednesday afternoon.

Southeastern Health announced that Southeastern Urgent Care Pembroke, The Clinic at Walmart and all SeHealth fitness centers would close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Southeastern Regional Medical Center Surgical Services and The Surgery Center at Southeastern Health Park will operate on a two-hour delay today. Gibson Cancer Center will open at 9 a.m. today. All other Southeastern Health affiliates, clinics and centers will open at 10 a.m. today.

Robeson Community College ended classes at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday. All evening classes and activities for today were cancelled, and the campus closed at 1 p.m. for faculty and staff. No decision on today’s classes had been made.

There was no word from the Public Schools of Robeson County or The University of North Carolina at Pembroke about classes for Thursday. The public schools did not have class on Wednesday. Check robesonian.com for updates.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation maintenance facility in Robeson County was busy making sure highways and streets were ready for whatever Mother Nature dumped on local roadways.

“Currently we are only seeing rain throughout the county,” Brice Bell, county maintenance engineer, said Wednesday afternoon.

Crews had already treated about 800 lane miles with salt brine over a 24-period and dispersed 33,600 gallons of salt brine solution, he said. The facility’s entire fleet of trucks was prepared Tuesday with snow plows and salt spreaders and crews began reporting to the office at 4 a.m. Wednesday in anticipation of any early accumulation of snow and ice.

“We will work around the clock until the threat of accumulation or formation of ice is no longer present,” Bell said.

Six inches of snow had fallen Wednesday morning on parts of Alamance County, while 4 had fallen in Chapel Hill, where the University of North Carolina canceled classes. Several inches had also fallen in the mountains to the west. Forecasters said a swath of the central part of the state could get as many as 8 inches by the time the snow stops falling later in the day.

“This storm is moving a little slower than they had anticipated, but that means that the impacts on our state could be even greater,” Gov. Roy Cooper said Wednesday at a news conference.

Most of the state’s 115 school systems had canceled or delayed classes, he said.

The state Highway Patrol already had responded to more than 500 collisions by Wednesday morning, patrol commander Col. Glenn McNeill said. State roads had been treated with more than 2 million gallons of anti-icing salt brine.

About a quarter of the Wednesday’s 360 arrivals and departures had been canceled at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, aviation officials said.

Duke Energy reported about 5,400 outages concentrated mostly in the Charlotte area, and in Durham and Orange counties. Cooper said that because the storm was packing mostly snow, outages shouldn’t be as bad as they would be during an ice storm.

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Staff and wire report