County fights off deep freeze

Published 11:13 pm Thursday, January 22, 2009

By Staff
Thaw begins in earnest today
Contributing Editor
Snow in eastern North Carolina often is treated like an overnight guest.
Residents, local governments and providers of utilities were happy to see the snow that arrived with Tuesday’s winter storm begin melting Wednesday. With today’s high temperatures predicted to reach into the mid- to high-40s and forecasts for sunny skies, the melting should accelerate.
A winter storm that began moving through North Carolina on Monday dumped up to 7 inches of snow in some places in eastern North Carolina on Tuesday. On Wednesday, people braving temperatures as low as 12 degrees in some places were coping with the storm’s aftermath.
Anita Bullock Branch, deputy director of the Beaufort County Board of Elections, who lives on U.S. Highway 17 near Aurora, said she had no trouble driving on roads to her office near Beaufort County Medical Center in Washington on Wednesday.
But that was not the case in other areas early Wednesday morning.
Highway Patrol Troop A, which covers northeastern North Carolina, received 96 reports of weather-related accidents from midnight Tuesday through noon Wednesday, said Lt. H.P. Hardison with the Troop A office in Greenville.
None of the accidents was fatal, he said. Across the state, troopers responded to more than 2,500 accidents during the winter storm.
While major highways were mostly clear and posed few risks to motorists Wednesday, many back roads in the Troop A coverage area remained dangerous, Hardison said. He offered advice for motorists this morning.
In Beaufort County, N.C. Department of Transportation workers were scheduled to work through Wednesday night “addressing” problems with icy roads, said Robby Taylor, DOT’s county maintenance engineer.
The crews will spread salt, use scrapers or a combination of the two as road conditions dictate, he said.
In Washington, city crews scraped streets Wednesday, and they were prepared to spread salt on streets with significant ice accumulations Wednesday night, said Allen Lewis, city director of public works.
During Tuesday’s snowfall, two sanitation crews picked up garbage, Lewis said. Those crews missed a small section on East Second Street, with each crew believing the other crew had serviced that section. That section was serviced Wednesday, Lewis said. The crews did not pick up yard waste. That service resumes next week.
As for power outages in the Washington Electric Utilities’ service area and effects from the snowfall, “nothing significant” occurred during or after the winter storm, said City Manager James C. Smith.
None of the 4,648 Progress Energy customers in Beaufort County reported power outages either Tuesday or Wednesday, according to a Progress Energy spokesman.
Tideland Electric Membership Corp. experienced no power outages in its service area since 55 customers in Oriental in Pamlico County lost power Tuesday, said co-op spokeswoman Heidi Jernigan Smith.
Teachers and staff with Beaufort County Schools are to report to work at normal times today, with schools opening for students two hours later than normal opening times. Those conditions also apply to Beaufort County Early College High School teachers, staff and students.