Crews prepared to respond to inclement weather

Published 6:08 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Some crews in northeastern North Carolina spent most of Wednesday preparing area roads for possible snowfall by spraying brine on roads and sand on bridges, but crews in Beaufort County did not do that.

Robby Taylor, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s maintenance engineer for Beaufort County, said the 30-percent chance of snow forecast for Wednesday night had local DOT crews adopting a wait-and-see approach earlier that day.

“We have some equipment mounted just in case,” Taylor said Wednesday afternoon. “We’ll kind of play it as we go — on standby.”

No brine was applied to local roads Wednesday, Taylor said.

“There may have been some in surrounding counties, counties to the north or to the west, but not in Beaufort County,” Taylor said.

“If conditions warrant, we would certainly be out there taking care of it,” he said.

Washington’s Public Works Department also is keeping an eye on the weather.

“What we’re doing is we just make sure that our salt supplies are adequate. We check the equipment and make sure it is serviceable and ready for use,” said Frankie Buck, the city’s public-works director, on Wednesday afternoon. City crews maintain some, but not all, streets in the city. Highways such as U.S. Highway 264, U.S. Highway 1 and N.C. Highway 32 (which includes part of River Road and Third Street) are maintained by NCDOT.

While Thursday is expected to be sunny, according to the National Weather Service’s Newport office, there is a 20-percent chance of freezing rain or snow Thursday night. The NWS forecast calls for a 100-percent chance of a wintry mix Friday and Friday night, with a 40-percent chance of rain/snow Saturday and a 40-percent chance of snow Saturday night.

Beaufort County Schools might dodge the weather bullet later this week, according to Sarah Hodges, the school system’s public information officer.

“Friday is a teacher workday, which is a benefit,” she said. “If the teachers were to have to miss, we can put the workday somewhere else.”

If schools are closed to everyone Friday, students would not have to make up that day, she noted. The school system is proactive when it comes to inclement weather, she said. “We have a regular plan in place at all times,” Hodges said.

Superintendent Don Phipps and NCDOT work together when it comes to monitoring weather to help make decisions regarding school hours during inclement weather, Hodges said.

“We always try to make a call as early as we can for the benefit of the parents,” she said. “We keep a year-round plan, whether it’s snow, hurricane or whatever.”

Lows around 29 degrees are expected in Beaufort County on Thursday night, with lows around 38 degrees expected Friday night. The low for Saturday night is expected to be 30 degrees, according to NWS predictions. Over the next three days, highs are expected to be in the low to high 40s.

A low-pressure system over the Gulf of Mexico states is expected to dissipate Friday as a second low-pressure system rapidly forms and intensified off the North Carolina/Virginia coast Friday night, according to the NWS office in Newport. That system is predicted to lift northeast Saturday. Rain will come in from the southwest after midnight. That rain could be mixed with freezing rain, mainly for area west of U.S. 17. With temperatures at or just below freezing early Friday, some area roads could have icy patches making travel difficult, according to NWS warnings.

The incoming low-pressure system could bring strong winds to the region, especially the Outer Banks, warns the NWS office in Newport.

The Zion Shelter and Soup Kitchen, located in the basement of Metropolitan AME Zion Church on West Fourth Street in Washington, is prepared to open early (8 p.m.) during the next several days if harsh weather conditions occur, according to a shelter spokesman.

Reporter Caroline Hudson contributed to this report.





About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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