Crews prep for second snow of year

By: By Chris Berendt - cberendt@clintonnc.com

Just two weeks after Sampson’s first snow, local crews were bracing Tuesday for its second.

Keith Jackson, N.C. Department of Transportation’s maintenance engineer in Sampson, was in communication with state weather officials in Raleigh on Tuesday and was informed that the county could expect another 2-3 inches of snow during the day Wednesday.

On Tuesday evening it was announced that Clinton City Schools would be closed, with Sampson County Schools following suit, the day an optional one for staff in both systems. Sampson Community College was also canceled. Other local agencies, including city and county government, were still monitoring conditions Wednesday night.

“It appears that it should come in around 10 a.m. (Wednesday) and go out at about 6 p.m.,” said Jackson. “We’re expecting 2 to 3 inches north of Clinton and an inch or less south of Clinton.”

On Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Raleigh upgraded the winter weather advisory to a Winter Storm Warning — a “warning” meaning that a storm will produce heavy snow, sleet or freezing rain — for much of central North Carolina, in effect through Wednesday evening. There was between 2 to 4 inches of snow possible beginning in the early morning hours Wednesday.

Jackson said DOT crews began dropping its brine mixture along primary roadways on Tuesday morning and were expected to continue into the night, possibly as late as midnight, in preparation for the snow.

“We began our brine operations this morning,” Jackson said Tuesday, noting that primary roads and major secondary roads were being covered.

A cold front was expected to push through the area overnight Tuesday, spreading a mixture of rain and snow across much of central North Carolina.

There was initially some concern of rainfall that would precede the snow,which would wash away the brine and waste efforts. However, the forecast changed and rain was no longer expected, so the salt and water solution was spread along roads starting at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday.

During the snow event earlier this month, Jackson said local DOT officials “begged and borrowed” for salt from various outside sources, including Cumberland County, Wake County and even getting shipments from Chesapeake, Va., so salt was on hand this time around.

Some heavy equipment was on its way from New Hanover County to Sampson on Tuesday to ready the last of the roads, including N.C. 403, N.C. 411, U.S. 421 and N.C. 41 in the southern end of the county.

“We’ll have all of our primary routes covered with brine by midnight,” Jackson stated, “and then we’ll be back here ready to clear snow on Wednesday.”

All local schools were closed for two days earlier this month after the first snow saw between 1-3 inches blanket the county, with larger accumulation amounts in the southern end.

Sampson County Schools stayed closed a third day, following the weekend, amid single-digit temperatures that made clearing snow a task. While not expected to be as cold this time around, lows are still expected to dip below freezing Wednesday and Thursday.

Slick roads are likely during the day Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service, with melting likely until mid-day Thursday.

Jackson laughed that the same trucks that had snow plows and spreaders taken off them just a week and a half ago were now begin equipped again with them.

“But, hey, that’s the job,” he remarked. “So we’re getting ready.”

Schools closed due to expected weather

By Chris Berendt

cberendt@clintonnc.com

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.