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Triangle Prepares for Round Two of Winter Weather Bout

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RALEIGH — Mother Nature is threatening to begin 1999 with a dose of winter weather. Freezing rain, sleet and possible snow could cripple much of nation, and the Triangle is expected to receive some frozen precipitation as well.

The storm is expected to bring light freezing rain to the area Saturday afternoon, but change to rain by evening. Temperatures should warm faster with this system than last week's winter storm, which should prevent a major build up of ice.

Forecasters predict the temperature will remain in the mid 30s throughout the afternoon, and should not fall Saturday night.

However, if the Triangle receives any ice, it could cause power outages and dangerous road conditions. Many residents have already begun to load up on batteries and flashlights, and power company officials are also preparing for the worst.

"We're getting ready for the ice storm," says CP&L spokesperson Sandy Ramey. "All of our crews are on standby, and we're also trying to obtain some crews from out of state if necessary."

With the predicted storm on the way, officials are weighing their back up options. They have 1,200 workers on call to handle any problem the weather may bring to the Triangle.

Last week's storm affected 83,000 CP&L customers. If the lights do go out, getting a hold of the power company may be another challenge altogether.

"We have 1.1 million customers so no one can possibly have enough phone lines for everyone to be able to get through," Ramey said.

The DOT is also preparing for ice patrol. They are trying to get a head start on mother nature this time. The last storm required them to lay 8,000 tons of sand-ice mixture.

"It's a timing thing to determine how to get it out, but make sure you don't get out too early so it doesn't wear off too fast," says Jerry Linder, a DOT maintenance engineer. "But you've got to get it out before the ice and everything gets here."

Only time will tell in this situation. So all residents can do is sit and wait.

"I'm going to be a real optimist and say we're going to miss it altogether, but I doubt it," Linder said.

The DOT says their job is getting more difficult in winter weather situations as the area continues to grow. Although the highways and lanes have been expanded, their staff has not increased, which makes it harder to cover the roads quickly when a storm hits.


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