Tuesday, February 11, 2014 4:52 PM
Wilson braces for 'dangerous' winter punch
Snow to give way to sleet, ice
By Olivia Neeley | Times Staff Writer
Snowy weather returned to Wilson before lunchtime Tuesday, marking the third winter storm here this year. But a more treacherous round of sleet, snow and ice is expected Wednesday, which could cause downed power lines, trees and power outages.
Officials are urging residents to stay off the roads Wednesday due to the potential of dangerous conditions.
"If you don’t have to go anywhere, don’t,” said Gordon Deno, Wilson County Emergency Management director. "Wednesday is just round two. Residents should be prepared. There is a potential for power outages if we get freezing rain. What we get Wednesday will probably be more significant than what we got Tuesday.”
A winter storm warning is in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday until 6 p.m. Thursday for Wilson County.
"Wednesday is when it will start ramping up,” said Shawna Cokley, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Raleigh forecast office. The snow will mix with sleet and Wilson could see freezing rain by Wednesday afternoon. Forecasters said Wilson could see maybe 1 to 2 inches of wintry mix combined Wednesday.
But freezing rain could bring a tenth of an inch up to a half inch of ice, according to the National Weather Service.
"We will see some periods of a mix of precipitation into Wednesday night and wrapping up Thursday morning,” Cokley said. "We will have pretty steady temps through the day Wednesday and into Wednesday night.”
Deno said it’s important for those experiencing power outages to not call 911 or emergency management because it ties up the lines for those who have emergencies.
If your power is out due to the storm, officials say residents should call their utility provider. For power outages, Wilson Energy customers call 399-2424 and Duke Energy customers call 1-800-419-6356.
Officials said ice could bring down power lines and tree limbs. Emergency officials warn residents to stay away from fallen power lines. Deno said they will remain in contact with the National Weather Service and state emergency management regarding the weather event.
Deno said they are prepared.
"We’ve put our resources in place,” he said Tuesday. "We are monitoring the situation.”
‘NOT CATCHING A BREAK’
Wilson County Schools moved quickly to dismiss students early Tuesday as snow began to fall. Wilson Community College cancelled night classes. N.C. Department of Transportation crews headed out to precarious areas in Wilson Tuesday to clear roadways and salt bridges.
"We will be back out today for the second round,” said Jeff Scott, county maintenance engineer of the Wilson DOT office. "It’s kind of been one storm after another. It doesn’t seem like we are catching a break. But we will be here until the roads are safe to drive on.”
Scott also urged drivers to stay off the roads Wednesday. He said the chance of ice behind the snow and sleet is strong and could be extremely "dangerous.”
"It could be very bad conditions on Wednesday,” he said.
And for DOT crews, snow is a lot easier to handled than ice, he said. Wilson DOT officials began pretreating roads Monday in preparation of the storm. They also received a shipment of salt at the beginning of the week as well. Officials here said that due to multiple storms in a short period of time, a lot of DOT crews have low supplies.
"As much as we’ve had,” Scott said, "Everybody needs it.’
But Scott said Wilson’s DOT feels comfortable that their supplies of salt and brine will last through this weather event.
The first snow storm hit Wilson on Jan. 21, leaving behind between 2 and 3.4 inches. Two weeks later, a powerful winter storm swept through eastern North Carolina, dumping between 5 and 8 inches in Wilson County and bringing with it bitter cold temperatures.
North Carolina’s price gouging law is in effect again for this new storm, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Tuesday.
"Many businesses work to help their communities when bad weather strikes, but if you spot anyone using this storm to make an unfair profit off of consumers, let us know about it,” Cooper said.
Consumers can report potential price gouging to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. Call 1-877-5-NO-SCAM toll-free within North Carolina or file a price gouging complaint at www.ncdoj.gov.
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