As Western North Carolina residents keep eyes on the sky and ears to the forecast, the N.C. Department of Transportation has been preparing to respond to a weekend super-soaking.
Crews in mountain counties from Murphy to Mount Airy have been testing generators, checking power tools, and loading trucks with supplies.
“We’ve been testing our communications systems, making sure our chainsaws are working properly, and loading up trailers with barricades and warning signs,” says Jerry Combs, NCDOT Maintenance Engineer for Avery County. “If there are downed trees or flooded roads, we need to mobilize and respond quickly.”
The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for mountain counties through the weekend. With a storm system stalling over the area and tropical moisture fueled from the east by Hurricane Joaquin, forecasts are calling for a foot of rain in some locations, with even higher totals, 20 inches or more, possible in localized areas.
NCDOT reminds drivers to take increased precautions with potentially hazardous driving conditions.
- Never drive through a flooded road. It only takes a foot of water to move a vehicle.
- After driving through a puddle, tap your brake pedal to help dry your brake rotors.
- If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, but do not stomp on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner, and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission, push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own. If you have an automatic transmission, hold the steering wheel steady and lightly apply the brakes. For cars that have antilock brakes, you should apply steady pressure to the brakes, but avoid pumping them.
- Put together a supply kit for your trunk. Include a flashlight, first aid kit with an instructional manual, blanket, booster cables, shovel, sand to give tires traction, snacks and drinking water, and safety flares or an orange or red cloth to tie to the antenna.