On with the snow?

Published 10:52 pm Tuesday, January 20, 2009

By Staff
Forecasters predict up to 7 inches could accumulate in region
Contributing Editor
While confetti may be falling today in the nation’s capital for the inauguration of Barack Obama, forecasters are calling for snow to fall in northeastern North Carolina.
An accumulation of up to 6 inches of snow is possible in Beaufort County, according to the National Weather Service office in Newport. The chance of precipitation is 80 percent today, tapering off to 40 percent tonight, according to the NWS. A winter storm watch is in effect in eastern North Carolina through tonight. Highs are expected to be in the mid-30s today, with lows tonight in the 20s.
A low-pressure system off the coast of the Carolinas and a fast-moving and intensifying cold front moving down from Canada were expected to collide Monday night or early this morning, dropping snow over most of the state, if not the entire state, according to the NWS. Snow began falling in the state’s mountains on Monday.
Jeremy Schulz, a meteorologist with the Newport office, said the coastal low-pressure system partially responsible for the expected snowfall is not unusual, but the amount of snow it is expected to produce is somewhat rare for eastern North Carolina.
The expected winter storm brought closings and preparations across the state.
All Beaufort County public schools will be closed today for teachers, 10- and 12-month employees. Students were not scheduled to attend school today.
The Beaufort County Early College High School program at Beaufort County Community College will be closed today for students and all staff.
Washington’s City Hall will be closed today, along with all of the city’s nonemergency departments and offices, because of the expected snow conditions.
Washington Electric Utilities customers should call 975-9320 to report power outages or request nonemergency assistance. For emergencies, call 911.
Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill, during a brief interview Monday afternoon, said county officials had planned to evaluate conditions at 5:30 this morning and decide by an hour later whether to open county offices at normal times, open them late or close them.
On Monday, crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation pretreated bridges and major routes with a special salt brine to prepare them for the winter storm, according to a DOT news release. The brine adheres to roads, preventing snow and ice from sticking to the roads’ surfaces, allowing crews to more easily remove accumulations.
DOT has 150,000 tons of salt stored at sites across the state. If precipitation starts to accumulate, crews will begin salting roads. DOT also has access to a variety of trucks and equipment including snow plows, backhoes, graders and snow-blowers.
Motorists are asked to give snow plows and other DOT equipment plenty of room and to unnecessary travel, for their safety and to allow crews time to clear affected roadways.