Crews: Roads are sanded, salted as snow falls
Posted February 12, 2010 4:55 p.m. EST
Updated February 13, 2010 4:42 a.m. EST
Roads across North Carolina were sanded and salted as snow began to fall Friday evening when a storm barreled in from the south and west.
Flakes fell Friday from Texas to the Florida Panhandle and then up along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, bringing a rare white landscape to states that rarely see winter weather.
The storm left a trail of traffic accidents, power outages and canceled flights from Dallas to Atlanta. A spokeswoman at Raleigh-Durham International Airport said while widespread delays had not been reported there, travelers should check with their airline, particularly for flights to Atlanta and major cities in the Northeast.
Delta Airlines scrapped all Friday flights in and out of the Fayetteville Regional Airport; US Airways, which flies from Fayetteville to Charlotte, kept a regular schedule.
Bradley Whited, spokesman for the airport, said even if some snow sticks, the plows and de-icers will be able to keep travelers moving.
"We don't have any difficulty removing 4 inches of snow," he said.
Road crews prepare for cleanup
From Raleigh to Fayetteville and all the way to the coast, Carolina crews spread brine on the roads Friday and filled trucks with salt in anticipation of the storm’s arrival.
The brine, a salt and water mixture coats the road surface and keeps ice from bonding to the pavement as snow falls, the North Carolina Department of Transportation explained in a statement issued Friday afternoon.
Because of the rapidly changing forecast, crews said they didn't get to put salt down at least two to three days ahead of a storm as they usually do.
DOT crews focused their efforts on interstates – like I-40 and I-85 -- and major roadways – like Capital Boulevard in Raleigh.
"Once it is applied to the roadway and the moisture evaporates out of it, it's just as effective as always," DOT engineer Jason Holmes said.
In Fayetteville, where the storm is expected to have a greater impact, DOT Engineer Terry Washington said he was ready for a weekend of 12-hour shifts.
“We started this morning at 7 a.m.,” he said. The telltale white streaks on the roads show where brine is already in place.
Washington and his colleagues know what to expect. After all, this is the second snowstorm in a month in the Fayetteville area.
“We plow the snow and, if we have any spots where we see ice, we put our mix out,” he said.
"We got a lot of good compliments from the motorists saying we did a good job last time."
The City of Raleigh had 45 to 50 people on call for Friday night. After the snow begins to fall, they will fan out to plow major roads.
Once the snow is on the ground, DOT crews will roll out with plows to clear the roads and salt to melt the snow. The department stocked up on salt after the most recent snowstorm left some areas with a dwindling supply.
"If you see the lights blinking, try to stay behind and let us clear the road so the roads will be safe," said DOT engineer Terry Washington.
Forecast prompts closings, delays of weekend events
Schools in Wake and Johnston counties canceled athletic and other events for Saturday in anticipation of messy roads.
Durham Public Schools postponed basketball games scheduled Friday between teams from Riverside and Jordan high schools and between Hillside and Northern high schools. All the games will be made up Monday, spokesman Michael Yarbrough said.
Orange County planned to open government services -- including libraries, parks and recreation, senior centers, solid waste convenience centers and the animal shelter -- one hour late Saturday.
The North and South post exchanges on Fort Bragg will also be closed Saturday.