With temperatures still hoovering around 55 degrees Monday morning, Lin Reynolds was preparing his Department of Transportation crews for a predicted winter blast that was expected to blow into Sampson by mid-afternoon, bringing with it the possibility for sleet. It is a winter weather event Reynolds was hoping would bypass the county this go-round, but having everyone at the ready, he said, was necessary all the same.
“You look at the (weather) map, and it looks like we might get lucky. It’s weird when you look at it. It’s showing Duplin getting some and Harnett getting some, but we’re just in between. Usually when that happens, the northern part of our county will get hit a little, but it’s hard to tell at this point,” Reynolds said.
Either way, DOT crews have readied their equipment — spreaders are on and plows are out — just in case Sampson doesn’t dodge the winter bullet being fired just as March roared into its third day.
“Whatever happens, we’re ready,” Reynolds stressed, even as he wished for warmer temperatures to hang around.
“Sunday was so nice, warm too, and that means our ground is warm, which should be good for us in terms of stuff sticking. But the forecasters are saying we are in for some of that sleet and that with it getting so cold, it’s probably gonna stick.”
But because of the probability for rain mixed in with that sleet, and more rain expected during the week, Reynolds said putting brine on the roads wouldn’t be an effective option. “It would just wash away,” the DOT engineer stressed.
A crew will be on standby throughout the night Monday, ready to respond should calls come in of any bridges icing over. “It that happens, we’ll put down some salt,” Reynolds said, acknowledging that this was really a “wait-and-see game.”
“We’re just going to sit tight and see what happens. We hope nothing does, but we are ready just in case.”
Crews have been busier than normal this winter, what with two significant snows in just over a month’s time, winter weather that nearly depleted Sampson’s salt supplies.
“We were pretty much wiped out after the last snow, but we got that back pretty quick, with trucks bringing in salt from the port and us taking some trucks down there and bringing back some of our own. We’re pretty much OK now. We may not be 100 percent, but we are close,” Reynolds said.
Even as he talks about the near-capacity salt supply, the DOT engineer offered hope that it wouldn’t be needed again this season.
“Like most everyone else, I’m ready for warm weather. We’re here, we’re ready and we’ll be out on an as needed basis, but I’m hoping it won’t be needed this time around.”
By late Monday afternoon, temperatures had dropped to around 40 degrees, with a chilly rain coming down and forecasters still predicting a slow turn to sleet.
Though still hopeful, Reynolds reiterated the readiness of his team.
“We’re here and ready if we are needed,” he stressed.