Snow, ice blanket area during weekend storm

Published 7:58 pm Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lifestyles & Features Editor

Snow cream and naps by a roaring fireplace weren’t in the picture for John Pack this weekend.
Beaufort County’s emergency management coordinator had his hands full with the snow, ice and freezing rain dumped on the area by a winter storm.
“I was here all Friday night and I’ll be here Saturday night,” Pack said. “We’ve got extra crews on and I’ll bring in more people if I need to.”
As always, the fear of losing electricity during the freezing weather was uppermost in many people’s minds.
“We’re having some minor power outages here and there, but so far they’ve been back on within a couple hours,” Pack said during a telephone interview Saturday morning. “The power companies are on it.”
Even as he spoke, Pack was interrupted by an emergency call informing him that a tree limb, weighted down with ice, had fallen on a power line near Aurora.
Meanwhile, traffic was light in Washington early Saturday, which was a good thing, according to Pack.
“The primary roads have been treated, but the secondary roads are still considered treacherous at this point,” he said. “It’s very critical that people stay home if they can. There’s a fear of continued ice build-up with the northeast winds.”
Conditions were expected to further deteriorate Saturday night. Black ice was expected to be a problem, and today may not be much better, Pack warned.
“The weather service tells us to expect temperatures around 32 degrees Sunday, but with the wind chill it could be around 20 degrees,” he said. “The sun may melt much of the snow and ice, but tomorrow night everything will probably freeze again.
Beaufort County Manager Paul Spruill praised those charged with preparing for the expected storm.
“I think all the county’s power companies, and the city and Department of Transportation, have worked for days in anticipation of this storm to put our assets in a place where they can respond most effectively,” Spruill said.
Spruill agreed with Pack that road conditions will continue to be an issue.
“The county’s greatest concerns are for the roadways and for the folks traveling at all,” he said. “The forecast for colder temperatures is going to make it very treacherous in terms of vehicular traffic.”
According to Sgt. William Crane of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, automobile accidents that had been reported as of early Saturday were, for the most part, not due to the icy roads.
“Most of the stuff we’ve had this morning was people driving too fast and ending up in a ditch,” he said. “There’s a normal flow of traffic when people are going slow.”
Crane advised motorists who do have to hit the roadways today to be particularly cautious.
“I would recommend that people not drive at all if they don’t have to,” he said. “Black ice is going to be a concern. But if they have to drive, drive slow. That’s the key.”
*Due to weather conditions, the Daily News had early deadlines Saturday. More on the area’s winter storm will be featured in Tuesday’s edition.