Published: 2015-02-16 12:42:00
Updated: 2015-02-16 18:27:49
Posted February 16, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency Monday in advance of a winter storm expected to bring snow, sleet and ice to North Carolina. The designation frees up additional state resources to clear roads and help out residents.
"Here we go again," McCrory said at a news conference, recalling that North Carolina saw a mid-February winter storm a year ago. "Our goal again, like last year, is to be overprepared and hopefully underwhelmed by this storm."
Wake County declared its own state of emergency by mid-afternoon.
Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said highway crews spread 1.3 million gallons of brine on North Carolina highways to prepare for the storm – some major roads, such as Interstates 440 and 540, were treated twice – but he noted that the solution is less effective in temperatures below 20 degrees and if there is a rapid accumulation of ice on roadways.
"Even though we've brined, it's still going to be dangerous out there," Tata said.
About 1,800 trucks are prepared to spread salt and sand on roads once the snow, sleet and freezing rain start falling, he said. Crews will be redeployed as needed to handle the worst-hit areas of the state, he said.
Cities across the Triangle also had crews ready to clear, salt and sand secondary roads.
"We'll probably just be sand-salting the bridges throughout the night and responding to any any law enforcement calls, whether it's Highway (Patrol), Fayetteville (police) or whoever that may have some icy patches, and we'll address those as they come in," said Bill Hamilton, a Department of Transportation maintenance engineer in Fayetteville.
"With ice in the forecast, we've got chainsaw crews and other equipment available to address downed trees and other issues," Tata said.
Mike Sprayberry, state emergency management director, said widespread power outages are expected from Charlotte to the Triangle and east toward Greenville as ice accumulates on power lines. State officials are working with Duke Energy and electric cooperatives to ensure rapid response to outages, he said.
The State Highway Patrol and local authorities will check on every vehicle stranded along North Carolina highways, McCrory said.
"We don't want any stranded motorists out there in this kind of weather," Sprayberry said.
The Highway Patrol also created an online listing to help people search for any vehicles they had to abandon in the storm or that were involved in a wreck and which were later towed to keep roads clear. Vehicles can be searched by the owner's name, license plate number or vehicle identification number.
Airlines have already started canceling Tuesday morning flights into and out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport because of the storm, RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said. By 5 p.m., 73 inbound and 31 outbound flights had been scrubbed, and Hamlin advised travelers to check with their airlines over the next two days before heading out to the airport.
McCrory suspended all non-mandatory state operations in Wake County as of 2 p.m. so workers wouldn't end up in rush-hour traffic as the storm intensifies. Elsewhere in the state, he encouraged supervisors to use their discretion in allowing state workers to head home.
The governor also asked people to check up on neighbors, especially if they're elderly, to ensure they were safe as temperatures fall along with the snow and sleet.
"This is time for neighbors to help neighbors," he said.