With another round of snow and ice expected again this afternoon for many parts of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory along with Department of Transportation and Public Safety officials stressed the need to continue staying off the road and using extreme caution.
“As snow and ice blanketed almost our entire state yesterday, the threat of dangerous road conditions and power outages remains today,” said Governor McCrory. “Another round of wintry weather is expected this afternoon. It is important to stay off the roads so our first responders can address the safety concerns of our citizens and clear the roads. We have warned of the threats of this storm and taken necessary precautions; however, this large storm has posed unique and severe threats throughout our state. Stay tuned to local media and pay attention to the weather.”
Road conditions deteriorated rapidly yesterday, impacting afternoon commutes. As many drivers were unable to navigate roads, Governor McCrory and transportation and public safety officials warned drivers to not abandon their cars. As of 9 am, the State Highway Patrol had towed 139 abandoned vehicles across the state. This does not include any cars towed by local sheriffs or police.
NCDOT crews have made significant progress over the past 24 hours to remove snow and ice from roads and bridges across the state. The western mountains got up to 15 inches of snow, with the Triad seeing six to 12 inches of snow and the Triangle receiving as much as six inches of snow. Crews in these areas are working hard today to clear interstates and primary routes. Temperatures above freezing overnight helped crews in eastern North Carolina clear interstates and primary roads, with the focus today on secondary roads.
In all, more than 3,000 NCDOT employees are actively working on de-icing efforts statewide. More than 2,200 trucks and motor graders on the roads have spread nearly 28,000 tons of salt and sand to help improve travel conditions in areas impacted by the winter storm.
“I appreciate the dedication of our crews who are working to clear roads as quickly as possible, and you can help their efforts by staying home and not driving today,” said NCDOT Secretary Tony Tata. “Another band of heavy snow is moving into our state, and for your safety, we ask that you stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary.”
In some areas yesterday, drivers abandoned their vehicles on the roadways during the height of the storm. For the safety of the traveling public and to ensure that plow and salt and sand trucks can work effectively, NCDOT is working closely with the N.C. State Highway Patrol and local law enforcement to identify and move abandoned vehicles that are blocking travel lanes or posing an immediate safety hazard.
Under the current state of emergency and North Carolina’s Quick Clearance Law, NCDOT’s Incident Management Assistance Patrol, or IMAP, trucks are moving cars to the shoulder where possible. In other cases, the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement are coordinating with towing companies to move vehicles to a safe location. Troopers, National Guard soldiers, local law enforcement officers and IMAP crews are checking all abandoned cars to make sure no one is inside who needs help.
Drivers who abandoned their cars within city limits should call local law enforcement. Owners of abandoned cars outside city limits should contact the Highway Patrol at (919) 733-3861.
Since Wednesday, State Highway Patrol troopers responded to 5,725 calls for service. Of those, 1,868 were collisions. Troopers typically respond to approximately 800 calls daily.
By 10 am, the utilities reported about 92,000 power outages statewide, mostly in New Hanover, Brunswick, Columbus and Wake Counties. More power outages are expected over the next few days as conditions continue to deteriorate.
The North Carolina National Guard now has about 200 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 accidents and stranded motorists.
Twenty-three shelters are open in 19 counties, with others prepared to open as needed. So far, shelters have opened in Bladen, Brunswick, Cumberland, Halifax, Haywood, Iredell, Johnson, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Moore, New Hanover, Pender, Polk, Richmond, Scotland, Stokes, Wake and Yadkin counties.
Local Emergency Operations Centers are open in 43 counties to respond to storm requests for additional supplies and resources.
North Carolina remains under a State of Emergency declared by Governor McCrory, enabling him to mobilize the necessary 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-eight counties have declared local States of Emergency in response to the storm.
NCDOT encourages motorists to get the latest information on road conditions by calling 511, visiting the department’s real-time travel information website and following NCDOT’s Twitter accounts.
You can find current weather and road conditions on the free ReadyNC mobile app. Traffic conditions can be found on www.ncdot.gov.
Motorists are reminded NOT to call 911 or the State Highway Patrol Communication Centers for roadway conditions; those lines must remain clear for emergency calls.