Saturday, January 26, 2013 12:28 AM
Ice sparks wrecks, hazardous road conditions
By Olivia Neeley | Times Staff Writer
Emergency officials stayed busy Friday after the wintry mix hit Wilson causing hazardous road conditions and multiple wrecks.
"It’s in excess of 20 (wrecks),” said Wilson County Emergency Management Director Gordon Deno near 5 p.m. on Friday. He said they did not have any major injuries reported as of that same time on Friday.
Deno said U.S. 264 — from mile marker 36 to 52 — was the busiest area where wrecks were reported.
"There are several bridges through there,” he said. "The fire departments that cover 264 — Black Creek, Contentnea, East Nash and Sanoca, have been out continuously now for about two hours.”
Drivers were detoured Friday afternoon after all lanes of U.S. 264 East near N.C. 42 were closed due to a car crash. The road wasn’t expected to reopen until later Friday evening.
The storm was widespread. Statewide, there were hundreds of wrecks affecting every major highway.
While the weather brought snow briefly, it then turned into a mixture of sleet and freezing rain.
"Well we got that rain,” he said. "And when that rain hits the brine, it can wash it away.”
The roads quickly turned hazardous. Cars and SUVs began to run off roads and into ditches. Some even overturned. Many wrecks happened near bridges and overpasses. Emergency calls began to pour in as road conditions escalated throughout the afternoon. Some wrecks were reported on Interstate 95 and Interstate 795. Department of Transportation officials in Wilson continued to refill their trucks with brine throughout Friday to treat the roads.
"It didn’t get above freezing,” Deno said about Friday’s temperatures that were in the 20s. And Friday night’s temperatures would continue to fall. He said folks should remain cautious throughout Saturday when driving, especially Saturday morning.
"As we go through the day tomorrow (Saturday) the roads should start clearing up,” he said. "But in areas where there is a lot of tree coverage the ice could remain on the roads for the biggest part of the day. The temperatures are not going to get above freezing at all. It’s going to be cold.”
Folks should stay home, he said. If you do choose to drive, Deno said, you need to slow down.
ACROSS THE STATE
As the winter weather system moved across the state on Friday, officials urged North Carolinians to avoid driving. The wintry mix caused traffic problems and road hazards throughout the state keeping transportation crews, state troopers and emergency management directors busy. State officials urged people to contact emergency officials only for emergency situations. They also asked people to not call 911 or the N.C. Highway Patrol to report road conditions due to the lines needing to remain clear for emergency calls.
Wilson County and the rest of the region were under a winter weather advisory from noon until midnight Friday.
Wilson officials took no chances when forecasters predicted the worst of the weather to hit during rush-hour traffic on Friday.
Wilson County Schools were dismissed three hours early. But they weren’t the only school system who closed early. Many school systems throughout eastern North Carolina and beyond decided to close schools as a safety measure as well.
"Our first goal in deciding to close early was to ensure the safety of our students and staff,” said Superintendent Sean Bulson. "Our second goal was to make sure parents and staff had adequate time to adjust their schedules.”
School officials said all bus routes were completed without incident on Friday.
"I want to commend our bus drivers for the amazing job they do each day,” Bulson said.
Wilson County offices closed at 3 p.m. on Friday. and city offices closed at 2:30.
By Tuesday, warm weather will return with a high in the 60s.
• The city of Wilson has not made a decision on whether its Customer Service Center, at 208 Nash St., will be open on Saturday. City officials ask that residents call 399-2200 to see if the customer service center is open before traveling to the center on Saturday. The center is usually open from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday for drive-through customers.
• Youth basketball and Futsol games at Recreation Park in Wilson and Reid Street Center will be delayed 2 hours on Saturday.
• The SAT at Fike High School has been cancelled for Saturday and has not been rescheduled yet. SAT administration at Nash Central High School and Rocky Mount High School. Reschedule date is Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013.
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