Take your pick — rain, sleet, freezing rain or snow

Published 7:57 pm Sunday, January 31, 2010

Community Editor

Beaufort County — and much of eastern North Carolina — is bracing for a wintry mix of precipitation throughout today.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter-weather warning for the region, excluding Hyde and Pamlico counties where an advisory is in effect.
On Friday, Accuweather meteorologist Tom Kines predicted the wintry mix would start off as rain late Friday night, turning into sleet and freezing rain this morning and, eventually, snow.
“I expect it does get messy during the day tomorrow,” Kines said, on Friday.
But, he said, the storm’s effects on Beaufort County are particularly hard to predict.
“It’s kind of a tough call in your neck of the woods,” he said.
As of Friday afternoon, Kines said, the county was in the gray area of the storm between mainly rain to the south and snow to the north.
“Up near the Virginia border, they’ll get more snow. But head 40 miles south, and it’s not quite as big a deal,” he said.
Kines said that in a worse-case scenario Beaufort County could see up to 6 inches of snow, depending on how quickly a cold front trailing the storm arrives.
“As the storm moves farther east, it will get colder. Expect at least a few inches (of snow),” he said.
Kines said he expects whatever wintry mix that accumulates to linger for a couple of days, considering the five-day forecast.
He said temperatures will hover around freezing Sunday, before warming up a little bit Monday.
“Even though temperatures will get above freezing, the day will start off cold” on Monday, Kines said.
Beaufort County Emergency Management Coordinator John Pack said he’s most concerned about precipitation freezing on roads.
“When ice is in the forecast, it’s a big factor,” he said.
Pack said motorists must be aware of icy conditions and look out for falling or fallen trees.
“If the roads look slick, stay home and enjoy your family,” he said.
On Friday afternoon, Pack was working with the N.C. Department of Transportation, the N.C. Highway Patrol, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and local fire and rescue organizations to make sure the county’s roads are safe for traveling.
“I think we’re fairly prepared,” Pack said, adding that he held an informational meeting with the county’s emergency-response personnel at Emergency Management headquarters at 1 p.m. Friday.
“If it was hurricane season, we’d be up to speed,” he said before the meeting. “We’ll just see what transpires.”
A winter-weather advisory was issued for eastern North Carolina on Dec. 18, 2009, but temperatures stayed above freezing, bringing mostly rain. A snow storm blanketed the region last February, bringing up to 3 inches of snow in some areas in the last major snowfall to hit Beaufort County.
Pack said emergency operations went “extremely smooth” during that winter storm.
“I think it alerted a lot of people that we could get snow down here,” he said.