12/27/17 — Sleet, snow and rain have less impact on the area than expected, but colder weather looms ahead

View Archive

Sleet, snow and rain have less impact on the area than expected, but colder weather looms ahead

By Rochelle Moore and Ethan Smith
Published in News on December 27, 2017 12:31 PM

Wayne County residents awoke to a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain Wednesday but little disruption on area roads as a blast of cold air moved into the region.

"We did have some reports about a little snow in the area," said Erik Heden, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morehead City.

Wednesday weather conditions, as temperatures rise to a high of 39 degrees, include mostly rain.

Precipitation and cold temperatures developed this week as cold air moved south into North Carolina and mixed with moisture off the Atlantic Coast, Heden said.

"What you see is what you get," he said. "By 1 to 2 p.m., it's going to be to your east."

Temperatures will drop into the low 20s Wednesday and Thursday night. On Thursday, temperatures will be lower, with a high of 33 degrees during the day, Heden said. By Friday, temperatures will rise to 40 degrees.

"There's a slight chance of a little bit of snow Thursday night, but that's less than likely," he said.

Temperatures will drop even further early next week.

"The coldest air will be on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, which would take us into the new year," Heden said.

Nighttime temperatures will drop into the teens Sunday and Monday, with a New Year's Day high of 32 degrees, he said.

"It's going to be a cold seven to 10 days," he said.

N.C. Department of Transportation crews were out on the roads early Wednesday morning and reported safe driving conditions in the county, said Luther Thompson, Wayne County DOT maintenance supervisor.

"From what they could tell, everything was just (fine)," Thompson said. "Maybe we dodged the bullet."

During the early morning hours, DOT crews mostly saw rain and area bridges and overpasses remained clear.

Icy road conditions could develop overnight as rain continues Wednesday, he said.

"We may have some issues in the morning," Thompson said. "We could have some black ice with some bridges and overpasses."

DOT crews spent most of the day Tuesday adding brine, a salt and water mixture that helps prevent ice from bonding to the pavement, to highways, thoroughfares, bridges and overpasses.

DOT workers will treat roads in the morning, if icy conditions develop.

"We're just monitoring the weather," Thompson said. "If we come across anything that's slick, we'll probably treat with salt and brine."

No additional city of Goldsboro crews were called to respond to the wintry mix Wednesday, but the city has a winter truck prepared in case slick road conditions develop, said Rick Fletcher, Goldsboro public works director.

Several agencies are urging drivers to be prepared and take extra precautions while hitting the road during inclement weather.

AAA Carolinas is reminding drivers to:

* Avoid driving while fatigued.

* Never warm up your vehicle in an enclosed area.

* Make sure your tires are properly inflated.

* Never mix radial tires with other types of tires.

* Keep your gas tank at least half-filled to avoid gas line freeze-up.

* Avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.

* Do not use cruise control on any slippery surface.

* Look and steer where you want to go, and wear your seat belt.

* Watch the weather report prior to long-distance driving. Delay trips when bad weather is expected.

* Have your vehicle inspected, and make sure it is in peak operating condition.

* Pack a cell phone, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any necessary medication.

* Stay with your vehicle if you become snowbound. Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna, and run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill. Do not try to walk away from your car in a severe storm.

* Do not try to dig or push your vehicle out of the snow.

* Use whatever you can to insulate your body from the cold -- floor mats, newspapers or paper maps are good options.

* Accelerate and decelerate slowly. This allows for better traction and reaction time.

* Drive slowly.

* More than double your following distance from 3 to 4 feet to 8 to 10 feet.

* Don't stop if you can avoid it. Don't power up hills and if you are already going up a hill, don't stop.

* Stay home. If you don't need to go out, then don't. Just watch the snow from home.

According to a press release from the N.C. Department of Transportation, 1,442 people were killed in crashes on North Carolina highways in 2016, and 354 of them were alcohol-related.

Law enforcement is conducting a statewide Booze It & Lose It campaign until Jan. 1, 2018, in an effort to combat drunken driving.

"We want to keep our roads safe and help people understand that the only time they should be behind the wheel is when they are sober," said Mark Ezzell, director of the Governor's Highway Safety Program. "Alcohol affects people differently, and you do not have to be feeling or acting drunk to be too impaired to drive. One drink is too many to get behind the wheel."

During 2016's Booze It & Lose It campaign during this same time frame, there were 893 impaired driving-related crashes and 23 alcohol-related fatalities statewide.

If you are going out to drink, have a plan to get home.

Don't drink and drive, and arrange for someone who is sober to pick you up and take you home.

NCDOT also recommends not letting someone get behind the wheel if you know they are drunk. Call law enforcement if you see or know an impaired driver is on the road.

Agencies are urging people to simply stay home if the weather is too dangerous.

There are several steps people can take to winterize their home to fend off the cold weather as winter sets in.

Katie Jones, manager of Delmus' Hardware, said people can insulate their pipes with by wrapping them with pipe insulation or using pipe heating cables.

Jones also said the store carries faucet covers so people can cover any faucets exposed to the elements.

She added that some people will open their foundation vents during the summer, and closing them in the winter can help keep heat inside the home.

The store also carries window insulation kits, door slips and weather stripping to help insulate homes and keep the cold weather out.

Jones also said if people use a propane tank, they should check it for leaks, and make sure it is not rusted or pitted, and take extra care to strap it down securely if hauling the tank anywhere.