Storm dumps snow, but causes few problems

jwhitfield@newsobserver.comJanuary 31, 2014 

— The waiting game Tuesday was interminable.

Students got the day off school because of a snow storm that was predicted by some prognosticators to arrive as early as noon on Tuesday.

But the wintry weather didn’t arrive until shortly before 6 p.m.

When it finally started falling, the powdery snow started sticking quickly to grassy surfaces, roads and everywhere else.

By the time the storm blew through overnight, eastern Wake County residents saw about 4.5 inches of snow on the ground – plenty enough to go sledding, build snowmen, make snow cream and all the other things snow is good for.

Public works and road crews had prepared for the storm prior to its arrival, laying brine down on the streets to help ease traffic problems.

And, though the snow stuck to the roadways quickly, there haven’t been many reports of traffic problems. Students, though, were excused from clases Wednesday and again Thursday.

In Wendell, police Capt. John Slaughter said his officers had responded to no wrecks as of late Wednesday morning.

“It’s been quiet here. I think a lot of people have decided not to try to get out and drive,” Slaughter said.

And, while the skies cleared on Wednesday, temperatures didn’t rise significantly, meaning there wasn’t likely to be any snow melting overnight.

Wendell Public Works Director Alton Bryant said his crews started moving snow off the streets and off the sidewalks in downtown about 4 a.m.

“The meteorologists had predicted that the storm would move out of the area about 2 and they were right, so we wanted to get out during that time window when people wouldn’t be out on the roads yet,” Bryant said. He also pointed out that the dry nature of the snow made it easier to remove from local streets.

In Knightdale, the Parks and Recreation department canceled activities early Tuesday when the town also began brining the streets.

Knightdale Communications Director Brian Bowman said Knightdale Boulevard was icy and there were a few cars that slid off the road on Interstate 540 near Knightdale. There were no injuries reported.

Waste Industries postponed service in the town for the day and the state, which is responsible for major roads like Knightdale Boulevard and Smithfield Road, began treating the streets.

Town crews began clearing secondary streets around 5 a.m. and by about noon on Wednesday, the town had treated more than half the secondary streets in town. Bowman said the secondary streets would be clear by the end of the work day on Wednesday.

Even though the roads would be clear, Bowman said the town was preparing for the snowfall to be a two-day event. He said the town was preparing for the snow to freeze again overnight and the roads to be icy again on Thursday.

The town canceled parks and recreation activities for Wednesday and opened its track-out camp at 10 a.m. Bowman said the town will make decisions about cancellations on a day-by-day basis.

Zebulon police said they hadn’t had a single report of weather-related traffic issues through Wednesday afternoon thanks to the efforts of the town’s public works crew to keep streets clear.

“The only thing we had all day was a guy’s transmission went out and we pushed him out of the road,” Off. Eric Anderson said.

Public Works Director Chris Ray said his team was on standby Tuesday night after applying 4,200 gallons of brine. The unit applied a layer of salt on Zebulon’s major thoroughfares before calling it a day about 10 p.m., only to return at 5 a.m. Wednesday to start plowing roads.

The brine didn’t keep precipitation off the surface of roads, but Ray said it paid dividends for plowing inside the town limits and at the municipal facilities.

“I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been successful plowing was because (the snow) didn’t freeze to the surface,” Ray said. “(The brine) basically created a separation layer there.”

By Wednesday afternoon, Gannon and Arendell avenues were cleared to the curb and gutter and were drying. Secondary roads inside the town limits had been plowed and were in good shape, Ray said.

“They’re not snow-free, but I’d say 90 percent of secondary roads are clear,” he said. “At intersections and shady spots, there is a little build-up there.”

Ray said his crew planned to come in bright and early again Thursday to address remaining trouble spots after another night of freezing temperatures.

View reader-submitted photos of the winter storm here.


Whitfield: 919-829-4823; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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