State Response to Winter Storm Continues
Icy Roads, Downed Trees and Power Lines Major Concern
Raleigh, N.C. In a briefing at Emergency Operations Center Saturday morning, Governor Pat McCrory urged citizens to stay vigilant during the first significant winter storm of the season. The governor asked residents and businesses to remain mindful of hazardous travel conditions, stay home whenever possible, and monitor their local forecasts as a significant winter storm continues to impact North Carolina.
"Downed trees and power lines, as well as icy road conditions will continue to be an issue," said Governor McCrory. "Stay off the roads if you can to allow first responders, the power crews and Department of Transportation crews to do their jobs so everyone can be safe."
The State Highway Patrol has responded to more than 3,400 calls for assistance and investigated more than 1,950 crashes since the storm began. Since Wednesday, six weather-related motor vehicle fatalities had been reported. The deaths resulted from crashes in Iredell, Catawba, Wilkes, Johnston, Stokes and Forsyth Counties.
Forecasts call for light snow across much of the state, heavier in the western areas, moving off to the northeast later in the afternoon. The mountains and the northwestern part of the state could see up to 5 inches of snow today, and the Triad area could get 2-3 inches of snow. The central part of the state is expected to receive between one-half to 1 inch of ice and sleet. Eastern and coastal counties are expected to receive less than 1 inch of snow and to experience high surf, mainly north of Cape Hatteras; heavy seas with minor to moderate flooding are possible around the Outer Banks. The last snow showers are expected to leave the state by Sunday morning. Strong, sustained winds of 15-20 mph are expected across much of the state today, with gusts up to 30 mph. High winds and ice mean more downed power lines and power outages are likely.
By mid-morning, approximately 148,000 homes were without power across North Carolina. Utility company crews have been responding quickly to power outages wherever they are reported, and the number of outages has been decreasing since last night.
"If you see a downed power line, please exercise extreme caution and don't try to move it," said Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. "For those using portable heating sources you need to be careful about where and how you use them to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Remember: never leave a space heater unattended and turn it off when leaving a room or going to sleep."
Several shelters are open around the state and others are on standby, but as of Saturday morning they had only five occupants total.
Gov. McCrory activated the State Emergency Response Team Thursday and declared a State of Emergency late Wednesday due to the high volume of snow and ice accumulations forecast. He also 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.
The following storm response measures have been taken:
All State Highway Patrol Troopers activated or on standby
More than 130 National Guard soldiers are working in 'catch teams' to help locate and assist stranded motorists
Eight National Guard Forestry Support Teams are working with forestry crews to clean debris from roads around Butner and Rockingham
NCDOT crews placed more than 2 million gallons of salt brine in an effort to help prevent ice from bonding to the roadway, and have also used more than 33,800 tons of salt and more than 7,900 tons of salt-sand mixture to clear roads of snow and ice
Eight NCDOT employees and seven pieces of equipment from Washington and Pasquotank counties left Saturday morning for the Asheville area to assist with response efforts there. Implemented adverse weather policy for state employees to help them remain safe
"Temperatures and additional precipitation overnight have set back the effort to clear roads," said Secretary of Transportation Nick Tennyson. "We have mobilized the maximum available effort including contract services and will continue to work on improving conditions. Drivers need to be aware that the secondary road system will not be worked until later today at the earliest, so stay home and off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary."
"North Carolina's emergency response team is the best in the country," said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry. "They are still responding to the challenges of this storm and are ready to assist the counties and regional branches with whatever support is required."
More information about storm response and recovery efforts can be found on ReadyNC.org (link is external) or by following NC Emergency on Facebook (link is external) and Twitter (link is external). Real-time information about weather and road conditions and other emergency preparedness actions can be found via the free ReadyNC mobile app.
Contact: Crystal Feldman
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