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Snowfall forecast for area

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Rocky Mount Streets and Stormwater employee Ryan Page drives along Jeffreys Road on Jan. 5, 2017, applying brine to the roadway . Brine trucks were out Tuesday night in anticipation of today's expected snowfall.

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

With bitter cold arctic temperatures continuing this week and a winter storm on the way, local and state authorities are preparing for the worst and asking residents to do the same.

Snowfall as deep as five inches is expected in parts of Eastern North Carolina, prompting city and state road crews to brine streets and highways.

A winter storm watch begins today for counties east of Interstate 95, including Nash, Edgecombe and Wilson counties. Residents and travelers should see a swath of snow, ice and slippery roads Wednesday afternoon into Thursday, according to duty forecasters with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.

“Snowfall amounts can be very hard to predict in North Carolina, as we saw in early December in western North Carolina,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “A small change in a storm’s track can make a big difference in how much snow falls and where. That’s why we’re making sure North Carolina is prepared for whatever this storm could bring, and why I encourage families and businesses to get ready.”

Motorists in areas hit by the winter storm should expect treacherous driving conditions, especially on bridges, overpasses and other common trouble spots, according to the N.C. Transportation Department.

The city is pre-treating roughly 250 lane miles of roadways with 9,000 to 10,000 gallons of brine mixture. Brine is used to pre-treat the roadways as a de-icing agent in advance of frozen precipitation and is composed of water with a salt concentration of 20 percent to 23 percent. The process entails the use of three dump trucks with brine tanks and application equipment to distribute the brine and three trucks to shadow these units, city officials said.

While trucks are deploying the brine, and later if snow accumulates and plowing is required, motorists are advised to maintain a safe distance should they encounter a truck or city crews performing this work. Maintaining a safe distance is encouraged to provide for the safety of the employees performing this work and for the motoring public, said Tameka Kenan-Norman, the city's chief communications and marketing officer.

The extremely cold temperatures mean snow and ice will be more difficult to clear from the roads. Brine can only be applied when temperatures are above 20 degrees, as the salt-water brine solution can freeze onto the roadways and create icy conditions when temperatures are in the teens. Extreme cold in the evening and overnight also limits the ability of salt to melt snow and ice on roadways. Crews will need to wait for the rising temperature during the daytime to clear any ice, said N.C. Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.

“These extreme cold temperatures can be life-threatening if people lose power and heat,” Sprayberry said “Many counties are ready with plans for warming centers, should they be needed. People should make sure they are ready for the cold, and should stay off the roads while conditions are dangerous.”

N.C. Emergency Management officials urge residents to follow these tips in order to be ready for winter weather:

■ Dress warmly for the cold, wearing multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.

■ Always keep at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food in homes.

■ Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand. Be sure everyone knows how to use them.

■ Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

■ Don't burn charcoal or use a grill indoors.

■ Use a weather radio or monitor local news media for changing weather conditions. Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights. If pipes are uninsulated, keep faucets open to a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing. Keep pets inside, out of the cold.

The N.C. State Highway Patrol urges motorists to store an emergency kit in their vehicle, including a windshield scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand and salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and a road map. Troopers also offer these tips for travel during winter weather:

■ Keep cellphones charged.

■ Monitor fuel levels.

■ Clear windshield and other windows of snow and ice before traveling.

■ Use headlamps and windshield wipers.

■ Plan for delays and longer than usual travel times.

■ Increase following distance.

■ Decrease speed.

■ Choose several routes as some roadways may be closed.

■ Share travel plans and routes with others.

■ Always be aware of locations in case of being stranded.

■ If a vehicle becomes disabled, stay inside the vehicle until assistance arrives.

■ Contact 911 or *HP in emergency situations only.

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