The Journal Gazette
Friday, January 21, 2022 2:20 pm

Rare blast of snow, ice takes aim at southeast US coast

BEN FINLEY | Associated Press


NORFOLK, Va. -- Salt spreader trucks crisscrossed coastal roads as courthouses and schools closed Friday to prepare for a snow and ice storm expected to snarl parts of the Carolinas and Virginia unaccustomed to winter precipitation.

Authorities along the North and South Carolina coast warned that ice accumulation could cause power major power outages, while areas northeast of there stretching into Virginia could see several inches of snow.

School districts in the pathway canceled class or went to remote learning, while two large coastal military bases told nonessential personnel not to report to work. Fifty-seven courthouses from central North Carolina to the coast closed or altered operations because of the forecast.

Transportation officials in the southeast corner of Virginia said Friday morning that crews had been working overnight to treat the roads, but warned people to stay off of them.

“Road temps are below freezing on all roads in the area, which means high potential for slick spots, black ice and slushy conditions. Stay home where it’s safe and warm, unless travel is unavoidable,” the Virginia Department of Transportation's Hampton Roads District said in a tweet.

Near Raleigh, an ambulance transporting a patient slid off an icy road early Friday, injuring two workers aboard, according to the state Highway Patrol. The patient died after the crash, but the cause of death hasn't been confirmed.

The governor's office said numerous crashes were reported Friday morning after the storm's first wave, and a wave of heavier snow and ice was expected later in the day.

Forecasters predict four to six inches of snow in the northeast corner of North Carolina and Virginia’s Hampton Roads region, which includes Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

“Untreated roads will be slick, and treated roads will probably get slick overnight,” said Mike Montefusco, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia.

He advised motorists to delay travel until later in the weekend.

Chris Stokes, 41, a construction worker who lives in Norfolk, stocked up at a Harris Teeter grocery store Friday morning, rounding out his provisions with bottled water, eggs, chicken, wine and other items.

“I already had a couple of things, but now they’re making it seem like it’s gonna be a lot worse,” Stokes said.

School was canceled for his kids. His construction jobs were on hold. Stokes’ plan was to put some chicken in the slow cooker and assemble some toys that his kids got for Christmas.

“I bought some salt, so I’ll sprinkle that outside the walkway and just kind of brace for it,” Stokes said.

“Luckily, I got a four-wheel drive (pickup truck)," he added. "So, if anything happens I’m not stuck for real. I can probably make it to where I need to go. But I’m sure nothing will be open.”

In North Carolina, the heaviest amounts of ice will likely develop near New Bern, where two U.S. highways cross, said Ryan Ellis, the science and operations officer for the National Weather Service office in Newport/Morehead City.

“We could see up to a half an inch of ice there, and with that amount you’re really starting to get into concerns about power outages,” Ellis said.

Ice will be a concern along the coast from Jacksonville, North Carolina, to the northeast corner of South Carolina.

The governors in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia each declared states of emergency ahead of the storm.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, noting that more than 100 members of the National Guard were staged in eastern North Carolina, warned the storm's second wave would be heavier than the first and urged people to stay off the roads.

“If you can, stay put and off the roads as that’s the best way to stay safe,” he said in a news release Friday.

Duke Energy said in a news release that it has readied 2,500 workers around the Carolinas to help restore power after the storm blows through, drawing crews from as far away as Florida and Indiana.

The U.S. Navy is requiring only mission-essential personnel to report to its installations along Virginia's coast, including the world's largest Navy base in Norfolk.

Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Air Station New River in Jacksonville, North Carolina, also announced that non-essential employees won't be required to report to work Friday.


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