Expected snow brings warnings, canceled meetings

***UPDATED THURS. 12:30 P.M.***

***Update from the city of Asheville about delayed sanitation service today posted at the bottom of this message.***

***Today’s planned public meeting on Asheville’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts master plan has been cancelled. Details in a statement at the bottom of this message.***

The warnings of a winter storm (maybe up to four inches!) have been rolling in for the past two days. Now, the governor’s office in Raleigh has seen fit to advise caution in the face of a storm rolling in from the Gulf of Mexico.

The N.C. Department of Transportation has this site to supply up-to-date road information, or you can call 511 to check out travel conditions.

Meanwhile, the sense of foreboding has caused the cancellation and postponement of the following meetings and events scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 17:

• RiverLink’s meeting to discuss the Railroad Quiet Zone has been moved to Jan. 21 at 6 p.m. at A-B Tech’s Simpson Auditorium.

• The Pack Square Conservancy has postponed its Walk in Pack Square Celebration until sometime in February.

Post information about your canceled and postponed events below, and check back here for updates.

The text of Gov. Mike Easley’s weather warning can be found below.

— Brian Postelle, staff writer

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GOV. EASLEY CAUTIONS CITIZENS IN WESTERN AND CENTRAL NORTH CAROLINA OF POSSIBLE HAZARDS DUE TO WINTER WEATHER
Snow, Sleet and Freezing Rain Expected to Make Some Roads Dangerous

RALEIGH – Gov. Mike Easley today warned citizens in the western and central portions of the state that a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain could make traveling hazardous on Thursday morning.  A low pressure system from the Gulf of Mexico will move into central North Carolina after midnight bringing a brief period of snow and sleet followed by freezing rain that will eventually turn to rain.  The event is expected to bring up to an inch of snow to the Triad and as much as 2-4 inches inches in the mountains.  The Triangle area is expected to get a mix of precipitation that will make driving difficult during the morning commute.

“The good news is we will get some much needed rain from this system, but while sleet and snow are falling, there is the potential for slick roads,” said Easley.  “People should check the local weather forecast and road conditions before you head out on Thursday morning.  If conditions are dangerous, the best thing to do is stay where you are until the roads are safe.”

For real-time information on road conditions, visit www.ncdot.org and click on “Travel Information” or call 511, the state’s toll-free travel information line.  Please do not call 911 or the Highway Patrol for road conditions.  Those lines must remain clear for emergency calls.

The N.C. Department of Transportation began pre-treating roads and bridges in western and central North Carolina yesterday with a special salt and water solution called salt brine, which sticks to the roads and keeps ice from bonding to the pavement during the first few hours of a storm.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for the Triad area west to the southern mountains, due to the possible accumulation of up to a quarter of an inch of ice.  While forecasters say it is unlikely there would be widespread power outages, people in those areas of the state should be prepared just in case.  Power companies in those areas have already put preparations in place.
The N.C. State Highway Patrol has additional troopers to handle calls for service and crashes.  Anyone who must drive should increase following distance and decrease speed.  Motorists should be aware that “black ice” is possible when moisture covers the roadways and temperatures are near or below freezing.  The icy areas blend into the color of the pavement and are difficult to see.  Forecasters say wet roads Thursday night might refreeze and cause some patches of black ice early Friday morning.

The Department of Transportation’s anti-icing program is the first defense against winter weather.  NCDOT operates brine production plants in county maintenance yards in each of its 14 highway divisions, where crews have the capability to make salt brine and load it into trucks to be sprayed onto the roadway.  The department has the capacity to store 965,000 gallons of brine statewide for use when needed.

As precipitation starts to accumulate, NCDOT also uses salt to treat roads.  The department currently has 150,000 tons of salt in storage statewide.  In a typical winter, it uses between 50,000 and 60,000 tons of salt.

NCDOT also has a variety of equipment to dispense the salt and remove snow and ice from the roads. It includes more than 2,500 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders, 632 front-end loaders and backhoes, 650 motor graders and five snow blowers.  NCDOT also outfits pick-up trucks with snowplows to clear less traveled roads.  About 6,000 employees are available to operate this equipment and assist with winter weather response efforts.

The department prioritizes which roads are cleared first, focusing on interstates and four-lane divided primary routes that are essential to the movement of intrastate and regional traffic.  NCDOT then works to clear lower-volume primary roads, high-volume secondary roads, lower-volume secondary roads and then subdivision streets.

For more information on winter weather preparations, go to www.ReadyNC.org.

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CITY OF ASHEVILLE STATEMENT ISSUED THURSDAY:

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2008
Contact: Wendy Simmons
Phone: 259-5857
 
WINTER WEATHER DELAYS GARBAGE AND RECYCLING COLLECTION
 
Winter weather conditions have delayed garbage and recycling collection today, Thursday, January 17, 2008. Sanitation crews are on standby this morning due to the slippery road conditions. If road conditions do not improve throughout the day, residents are requested to leave their trash out at curbside for crews to collect as soon as road conditions improve. Brush collection and leaf collection will be on hold as well until weather conditions improve.

Curbside Management, the City’s recycling contractor will also be operating on a delayed schedule. Recycling customers scheduled for pickup today, are requested to place their recyclables out today. In the event, that they are not collected today, they will be collected as soon as road conditions improve.

For further information contact the City of Asheville at 251-1122.

________________________________________________________________________

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date:  January 17, 2008

City of Asheville
Parks and Recreation Department

Contact:        Debbie Ivester
Office 828-259-5804
Cell 828-280-6387
 
MASTER PLAN PUBLIC MEETINGS CANCEL DUE TO WEATHER

Asheville, NC – The public meetings for the City of Asheville Parks, Recreation and Cultural Arts master plan scheduled for January 17 at 6:30 p.m. at East Asheville Community Center, TC Roberson High School and Enka High School are cancelled due to inclement weather and unsafe driving conditions. The meetings are rescheduled for January 31 at 6:30 p.m. at the following locations.

Thursday, January 31 at 6:30 p.m.
·    East Asheville Community Center, 906 Tunnel Rd.
·    Shiloh Community Center, 121 Shiloh Rd.
·    Enka High School Cafeteria, 475 Enka Lake Rd in Candler

Stay up to date on the making of Asheville’s master plan for parks, greenways, recreation and cultural art at www.ashevillenc.gov and look under projects and initiatives.

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