UPDATED: Roads treacherous after heavy snow

Feb. 13, 2014 @ 12:42 PM

UPDATED 7:45 A.M. THURSDAY

High Point police report no major wrecks in the city from yesterday's snowstorm that brought an estimated 5.5 inches of snow and sleet to the area,  though dozens of stranded motorists needed help.
A city police and emergency services dispatcher told The High Point Enterprise this morning that there was a spike in wrecks yesterday when the snowfall was beginning and heaviest. But reports of accidents declined overnight, mainly because motorists heeded advice to stay off the roads.

City police dispatchers handled calls for 57 wrecks and 83 stranded motorists since lunchtime yesterday, a dispatcher said. On a typical day this time of year, dispatchers would handle calls for 22 wrecks and 14 stranded motorists on average in the city.
Main highways and streets in parts of High Point have been plowed, but secondary streets have several inches of compacted snow and sleet. Also, at intersections where plowed snow has built up in the roadway, it's difficult to gain traction at a stop sign or stop light.

The city of High Point Electric Utilities Department reports no power outages in the city on its website. Duke Energy Corp. this morning reported one outage in Guilford County and two in Forsyth County, according to the utilities website.

The worst conditions from the storm appear to be in the Research Triangle area and eastern North Carolina where there was more freezing rain.

Between midnight to 3:30 p.m. yesterday, the State Highway Patrol  responded to 1,360 calls for service across the state. Troopers typically respond to approximately 800 calls daily, according to the office of Gov. Pat McCrory.
By 3:30 p.m. yesterday, utilities reported about 101,600 power outages statewide, mostly in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus and Pender counties in eastern North Carolina, the governor's office reports.
 
"The North Carolina National Guard now has about 170 guardsmen with Humvees co-located with local emergency managers to help rescue crews responding to calls. A number of these have been paired with troopers to respond to accident and stranded motorists," according to McCrory's office.
 

McCrory declared a state of emergency earlier this week, enabling him to mobilize resources to respond to the storm. It also is the first step in seeking federal funds to help defray the cost of providing emergency services, clearing debris and repairing any damaged public infrastructure. The declaration is executed under the Emergency Management Act. Forty three counties have declared local States of Emergency in response to the storm, according to the governor's office.

 

 

UPDATED 2:30 P.M.

Here’s some advice about driving in treacherous, wintry conditions.
• Avoid unnecessary travel. Heed the advice of law enforcement authorities and delay travel until road conditions improve.
• Accelerate, decelerate and turn slowly. Snowy roadways mean leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
• Know how to get out of a skid. Lightly take your foot off the brake or gas and try to regain traction.
• Don’t use cruise control. You may need to quickly reduce speed by lifting your foot off the accelerator, which cannot be easily done on slick roads when cruise control is engaged.
• Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses. They freeze before roadways because they are exposed to air on all of their surfaces.
• Stay on cleared roadway lanes when possible. Remain in the clearest lane and be careful when shifting lanes.

Advice from law enforcement officers

High Point Police Department traffic officer Jeffrey Crouse:
“If you don’t have to be out in it, then don’t. And if you absolutely have to drive in it, probably 20 mph to 25 mph should be the absolute ‘max’ speed you should go.”
No particular roadways or parts of the city are more likely to have accidents in wintry weather.
“Generally where we have most of our wrecks is on the highways during bad weather. People get out on the highway, keep increasing their speed, until they finally lose control.”
One of the most common wrecks during inclement weather involves motorists who drive too fast, swerve off a roadway and wreck in a ditch or strike a guardrail.
First Sgt. D.B. Garland with the State Highway Patrol:
“If your vehicle starts to slide, don’t lock the brakes up. It’ll cause you to slide more. Just tap the brakes — apply the brakes, release, then apply pressure again.” 
Motorists should increase their following distance behind other vehicles and make sure they have their headlights on — even during the daytime — so other motorists can easily see your car.

Suggestions from motorists who grew up driving each winter in snow

Al Pfister, native of Indiana who now lives in Guilford County near High Point and owns Pfister Construction:
One key to driving in snow is anticipating a stop at an intersection or behind another vehicle.
“Pump your brakes and don’t turn your wheel. Just pulsate your brakes a little bit. That means you’ve got to be anticipating a whole lot more when you see a stoplight. Assume it’s going to change any time. I’ve seen people where the light is turning yellow and they think they can make it through there. Then they decide they can’t make it through and they slam on the brakes.”

Nora Murray, communications specialist at High Point University who grew up in Wisconsin
“Slow down and give yourself plenty of space in between the car in front of you. If you do skid or something happens, you have time to stop. Don’t think you can go faster just because you have four-wheel drive because your wheels can still skid.”
Murray said one advantage for drivers in the North is that states and communities have the crews and equipment to clear roadways constantly.
“In Wisconsin, we had armies of plows and salt trucks. Whereas here, you don’t have all of that because you don’t usually need it. So the roads aren’t cleared as quickly.”
pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528

 

UPDATED 8:45 A.M. WEDNESDAY

With several inches of snow expected this afternoon through early tomorrow morning, here’s some advice from AAA Carolinas about driving in treacherous, wintry conditions:
• Avoid unnecessary travel. Heed the advice of law enforcement authorities and delay travel until road conditions improve.
• Accelerate, decelerate and turn slowly. Snowy roadways mean leaving enough space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
• Know how to get out of a skid. Lightly take your foot off the brake or gas and try to regain traction.
• Don’t use cruise control. You may need to quickly reduce speed by lifting your foot off the accelerator, which cannot be easily done on slick roads when cruise control is engaged.
• Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses. They freeze before roadways because they are exposed to air on all of their surfaces.
• Stay on cleared roadways when possible. When driving, remain in the clearest lane and be careful when changing lanes.

 

 

It’s a question thousands of motorists in the High Point area probably will ask in the next couple of days — when will the roads near me be cleared of snow?
Weather forecasters say the city may get 6 to 10 inches of snow starting tomorrow morning from a massive winter system moving through the Southeast. The snow should taper off early Thursday, but will produce treacherous driving conditions as early as tomorrow afternoon’s rush hour.
“The snow will begin around daybreak Wednesday and will continue into very early Thursday morning,” said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather. “So it will be a long-duration event.”
Sosnowski told The High Point Enterprise that commuters should not be lulled into a false sense of security if it isn’t snowing heavily when they leave for work tomorrow morning.
“We advise extreme caution, because there’s a significant chance that they may have great difficulty getting home. The snow will hit fairly heavily during the mid-day and afternoon hours,” he said.
Sosnowski said this afternoon that the High Point area shouldn’t have a problem with ice and freezing rain, which should be south and east of the city.
Crews for the N.C. Department of Transportation and city of High Point have spent this week preparing, treating roadways with brine and getting equipment ready to plow roadways.
As is typically the case, crews will concentrate first on clearing interstates and major U.S. and state highways. Next in line will be primary roads through communities, then neighborhood streets.
How quickly crews can clear roadways will depend on the severity of the storm and how widespread the snow falls across a region or the state. The DOT doesn’t put an estimated time frame on clearing roadways of snow, said Marla Roth, a spokeswoman for the state agency in Raleigh.
“There are so many variables,” Roth said. “Does the snow fall all at once? Is it snow on the top or is it ice on the top? But the DOT does continue to clear on routes until they are bare.”
The DOT says it makes decisions on setting priorities for clearing roadways based on factors such as traffic volumes, highways critical to business commerce and routes used by tractor-trailers. Also, priority is given to streets around medical centers and roadways for emergency response routes, according to the DOT. 


pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528 

 

UPDATED 4:10 P.M.

Get ready for a winter storm later this week that could bring a half of foot of snow to the High Point area — an amount not seen since a major snowfall blanketed the city at Christmastime in 2010.
Or maybe get ready for a light snowfall that barely covers the ground.
How much snow the city might get starting Wednesday afternoon remains unclear. The amount will depend on several factors, including the path of a storm system moving across the Southeast this week. The snowfall Wednesday through early Thursday morning could total 3 inches to 6 inches.
The High Point area is on the northern edge of a system that will bear down on parts of Georgia and South Carolina. How much snow High Point will receive will depend on the direction and severity of the storm system, meaning totals could be as little as an inch or two or more than half a foot.
“Right now the track of this low is in a position where we are looking at a significant snow event. Significant for us is greater than 3 inches,” said Lanie Pope, chief meteorologist with WXII-TV.
High Point got a quick burst of snow Monday afternoon and may get another round today, said Jonathan Blaes, meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Raleigh.
“We will have multiple rounds of wintry weather,” Blaes told The High Point Enterprise Monday afternoon.
But the snow today shouldn’t bring any significant accumulation. Wednesday is another weather story entirely.
“Round three on Wednesday is going to be the big one. We expect a major winter storm to really get going in the afternoon Wednesday,” Blaes said. 
Heavy snow should fall Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, he said. The high Thursday won’t rise much above the freezing mark, meaning there won’t be much melting of snow.
“It’s still very fluid at this point,” Blaes said about the amount of snowfall. “The main thing is the storm track. But it’s hard to envision a scenario where you don’t get at least a little bit out there. And it’s not hard to envision a scenario where you get double digits (of snowfall).”
Crews for the N.C. Department of Transportation have started laying brine on roads across the Piedmont. The roads that will be treated include interstates, four-lane divided primary routes and other primary and secondary routes, the DOT reports.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528

 

Importance of brine during winter storms
Crews for the N.C. Department of Transportation are spreading brine across major roadways to prepare for a winter storm later this week. Salt brine is a solution of water and salt that helps prevent snow or ice from sticking to roadways in the initial hours of a storm. By putting down brine, salt will have more time to adhere to pavement, providing better protection from snow and ice.
Source: N.C. Department of Transportation

 

 

Get ready for a winter storm later this week that could bring a half of foot of snow to the High Point area — an amount not seen since a major snowfall that blanketed the city at Christmastime in 2010.

How much snow the city might get starting Wednesday afternoon remains unclear. The amount of snow will depend on several factors, including the path of a storm system moving across the Southeast this week. The snowfall Wednesday into early Thursday morning could total 3 inches to 6 inches.
The High Point area is on the northern edge of the system that will bear down on parts of Georgia and South Carolina. In general, if the system tracks more to the west, High Point will get more frozen precipitation, which could include sleet and freezing rain. But if the system tracks more to the east, the city will get lesser amounts of predominantly snow.
High Point got a quick burst of snow this afternoon and may get another round tomorrow afternoon, said Jonathan Blaes, meteorologist with the National Weather Service out of Raleigh.
“We will have multiple rounds of wintry weather,” Blaes told The High Point Enterprise this afternoon.
But the snow today and tomorrow shouldn’t bring any significant accumulation. Wednesday is another weather story entirely.
“Round three on Wednesday is going to be the big one. We expect a major winter storm to really get going in the afternoon Wednesday,” Blaes said. 
Heavy snow should fall Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, he said. The high Thursday won’t rise much above the freezing mark, meaning there won’t be much melting of snow.
“It’s still very fluid at this point,” Blaes said about the amount of snowfall. “The main thing is the storm track. The further east the system goes, the less precipitation. But it’s hard to envision a scenario where you don’t get at least a little bit out there. And it’s not hard to envision a scenario where you get double digits (of snowfall).”

Crews for the N.C. Department of Transportation have started brining roads across the Piedmont. The roads that will be treated include interstates, four-lane divided primary routes and other primary and secondary routes, the DOT reports.

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528