RALEIGH — Residents and officials across North Carolina are bracing for a powerful winter storm expected to produce snow and high winds Friday and Saturday.
Heavy snow and strong winds were predicted to begin in parts of N.C. on Friday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
The system will then intensify as a nor’easter and bring snowy conditions up the East Coast to New England, where forecasters warned of localized snowfall totals of up to 20 inches and wind gusts of 50 to 60 mph.
On Friday, the National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for the southern and western Piedmont and western Sandhills of central N.C. The NWS advisory predicted hazardous travel conditions from slippery or snow-covered roads and said scattered power outages can be expected. Snow accumulations of one to two inches, with localized higher amounts around 3 inches, were predicted Friday.
This would mark the third weekend snow storm in the past three weeks in Randolph County. The previous winter weather events have caused traffic issues and school cancellations but utility service has remained online except in small areas or short durations.
To the North, states declared snow emergencies and imposed parking bans, warning that wind-blown snow could make travel nearly impossible and colder temperatures could mean dangerous wind chills after the storm passes Saturday night.
In Virginia, where a blizzard earlier this month stranded hundreds of motorists along a major interstate highway for hours, Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency and said officials have already begun to position its resources in anticipation of downed trees, electrical outages and major impacts to travel.
The state’s Eastern Shore faces possible blizzard conditions that could bring winds as high as 50 mph, up to a foot of heavy and wet snow and possibly tidal flooding.
“The key message for all Virginians is to stay aware of the weather conditions and to stay off the roads if possible,” the governor said.
In North Carolina, the state Department of Transportation is mobilizing in anticipation of icy road conditions from Murphy to Manteo.
“We pre-treated roads and are ready to respond to this next round of winter weather,” said State Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette. “Please take this storm seriously and get any supplies you may need because snow and bitter cold temperatures will make travel dangerous this weekend.”
More than 1,100 NCDOT employees and contractors started earlier this week pre-treating roads with brine. Many crews were out again Friday morning finishing up their work to pre-treat roads, bridges and other trouble spots, according to a DOT press release. As of Friday morning, NCDOT had used nearly 500 trucks to apply 1.5 million gallons of brine.
Transportation crews are switching out brining equipment with salting and plowing equipment Friday afternoon and will start work overnight Friday with de-icing and plowing operations.
“Staying off the roads will make it easier for our crews and emergency responders to do their jobs,” said N.C. Department of Transportation’s Chief Operating Officer Beau Memory. “The best thing you can do is stay home once the winter weather starts.”A
According to a Friday afternoon statement, the NCDOT has been impacted by COVID-19 and staffing shortages. Transportation officials asked for motorists to be patient as crews may not be able to respond as quickly as in the past. Transportation officials said the department’s crews will work through the weekend to get roads cleared as quickly as possible.