For the third time in less than a month, Governor Pat McCrory joined public safety and transportation officials on Tuesday morning to urge North Carolinians to prepare for more winter storms.
“While North Carolina is well-versed in winter storm response, it is unusual to have three storms come so close together that have significant impacts on large portions of the state,” Governor McCrory said.
Once again, Governor McCrory said state agencies have been working with local emergency management officials. Storm preparations include transportation crews treating the roads with salt and brine, and state highway patrol troopers and N.C. National Guard soldiers are on standby.
Governor McCrory was joined by Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata, Department of Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry, Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry, Highway Patrol Commander Colonel Bill Grey, National Guard Adjutant General Gregory Lusk and representatives from the Department of Agriculture.
Prior to the press conference, Governor McCrory signed a State of Emergency declaration enabling him to mobilize the necessary resources to respond to a 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.
Also included in the executive order was a waiver on restrictions on weight and the hours of service for fuel, utility and other truck drivers that may be working to deliver supplies, restore services or clear debris in response to the winter storm. The waiver is in effect for 30 days.
“Our residents, as well as our livestock industry, need heat and electricity. These declarations are one way that the state can help to ensure that goods and services are restored as soon as possible,” Governor McCrory said.
In a proactive move, 1,350 NCDOT employees used 445 NCDOT trucks and 15 contract trucks to begin spraying salt brine on interstates, four-lane divided highways and major routes across the state Sunday and Monday in an effort to prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement. To date, they have placed 1.9 million gallons of brine on roads statewide.
Crews from Asheville to the coast are continuing brining operations this morning to ensure the most heavily traveled roads and high-rise bridges are pretreated before the storm moves in. They are also preparing snow clearing equipment and closely monitoring the forecast to tailor their response to any changes in conditions.
With snowfall starting yesterday in Western North Carolina, NCDOT crews have already begun clearing roads there. In some areas, crews used plows to push snow off the roads. In others, they used salt to melt the snow and slush from the roadways. Based on the current forecast, more snow is expected across the mountain region through Thursday.
“We began preparations well ahead of the storm, and our team stands ready to clear whatever it brings as quickly as possible,” said Secretary Tony Tata. “Safety is always our top priority. Removing snow and ice from thousands of roadway miles takes time, and rain can wash away brine treatments, so we want to remind drivers to avoid impacted roads unless it is absolutely necessary and use extreme caution if you have to travel.”
The latest weather models show the potential for heavy snow and ice accumulation across the state over the next few days, which could cause downed trees and power lines. NCDOT will work closely with utility companies to safely clear roads of fallen trees and power lines. Motorists should use caution and not try to remove trees on their own as they could be wrapped in energized power lines.
You can find updated weather and road conditions on the www.readync.org web site or with the new ReadyNC mobile app. The free app is available for iPhones and Android devices in the AppStore and Play Store; search “ReadyNC.”
“Our emergency managers at the state and local level have been watching this storm closely,” Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry said. “Our first responders are ready for this storm. We can do our part by watching the weather and ensuring our families and friends are prepared.”
NCNG has prepositioned 96 guardsmen with Humvees to help local emergency managers respond to the winter storm.
Perry said a combination of any ice and heavy winds could cause power outages. He recommended people follow these winter safety tips.
Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
Do not use charcoal grills or generators indoors; the fumes can be deadly.
Turn off electrical appliances that were on when the power went off to avoid a power surge when the electricity is restored.
Use flashlights. Do not use candles; they greatly increase the chance of having a fire in your home.
Limit your activities to no more than two rooms and close off unneeded rooms.
Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors and cover windows at night to keep cold air out and warm air in.
If you have well water, fill up tubs and buckets with water so if the power goes out you still have water.
Remember to eat and drink regularly. Food provides the body with energy to produce its own heat.
Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
Wear layers of loose fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Layering clothes keeps you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.
“Due to approaching winter weather, motorists are urged to stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary to travel,” said Colonel Bill Grey. “Our troopers are ready to assist stranded motorists as needed, but the best way to remain safe is to stay off the roads.”
Travelers are urged to call 511 or go to www.ncdot.org for up to date roadway conditions. 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.
If you must travel, the North Carolina Highway Patrol recommends following these safety tips:
Reduce your speed. Driving at the regular speed limit will reduce your ability to control the car if you begin to slide.
Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles.
Bridges and overpasses accumulate ice first. Approach them with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on the bridge.
If you do begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car.
Perry said the forecasted amounts of snow combined with below-freezing temperatures, means that the storm’s affects likely will be felt through Thursday. The good news is the weekend forecast calls for warmer temperatures.