Region preps for winter storm

From Staff Reports

The Daily Advance

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Three area school districts scheduled a shortened school day and road crews treated highways and bridges Thursday ahead of a winter storm that was expected to coat the region with snow and ice beginning later this afternoon.

The Edenton-Chowan and Perquimans schools plan to dismiss classes at 12:30 p.m. today while the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools will be closing two hours earlier than usual, officials said Thursday.

The Albemarle region will be under a winter weather advisory starting about 1 p.m. today.

Pasquotank-Camden Emergency Management Coordinator Christy Saunders said snow is expected to fall in areas west of the Chowan River sometime between noon and 2 p.m. The snow is expected to move eastward toward the coast by 4 p.m., Saunders said.

Between one and two inches of snowfall is expected before the snow stops falling sometime between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m.

Saunders said the snow is expected to mix with or change to sleet/freezing rain in the late afternoon and early evening. Ice accumulations are not expected to exceed one-tenth of an inch.

Sterling Baker, a Division 1 engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation, said crews were out Thursday putting down brine on bridges and roads and would be out today increasing the applications on bare-pavement routes.

Elizabeth City City Manager Rich Olson said Thursday city crews put sand and salt on the Charles Creek Bridge as well as on the Providence Road bridge in the Oxford Heights subdivision.

Olson said he does not anticipate crews treating any other roadways or bridges until they can assess the weather early today. Should road conditions become icy, crews will put down salt and gravel at major intersections maintained by the city, he said.

Saunders cautioned motorists to avoid venturing out on highways during the snowy and icy conditions unless absolutely necessary. If motorists must drive, Saunders urged them to be extra-cautious for the possibility of black ice on bridges, at intersections and areas of shade.

In addition, Saunders advised motorists to make sure their tires are properly inflated; maintain a safe interval between other vehicles; and to pump their brakes gently and come to gradual stops.

Because of strong winds, DOT’s Ferry Division suspended operations at the Currituck-Knotts Island ferry Thursday morning. Ferries cannot operate when water levels in the Currituck Sound are low.

Bonita Harris, a spokeswoman for Dominion Power, said the electric utility is not anticipating any major problems with electric service, but crews are ready to respond if power lines go down.

Camden County school officials said they planned to monitor the weather Thursday evening and Friday morning. A decision on whether to release students early will be made by mid-morning today, officials said.

In Currituck County, school officials said classes will be held as scheduled today. If there are any changes, they will be communicated to parents and staff via the district’s phone alert system and website.

Perquimans officials have postponed a basketball game that had been set for tonight at Plymouth. The game will played instead on Feb. 6.

Officials at area colleges and universities plan to monitor the weather conditions but have no plans to cancel classes or alter schedules.