Snow day great for kids, work for road crews and police

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Steve Huffman
Jennifer Carracio said her children saw a foot of snow when they visited their grandparents in Syracuse, N.Y., over the Christmas holidays.
That, Carracio said, was nothing compared to the glee they expressed upon awakening Wednesday to see the 2 or 3 inches that fell at their house in China Grove.
“I think they were more excited about this,” Carracio said of the little-more-than-a-dusting Rowan and surrounding counties received.
“This got ’em out of school and everything.”
Carracio and her husband, Frank, have four children who range in age from 18 months to 12 years. Carracio said the older children spent a couple of hours playing in the snow Wednesday, a process likely repeated by a countless number of their counterparts across the county and state.
“They didn’t have sleds,” Carracio said. “They just had little snowball fights.”
Salisbury received 21/2 inches of snow Tuesday night and Wednesday morning said Patrick Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
He said the accumulation was similar to that recorded through most of the area. Only Kannapolis, with 3 inches, received more snow than any municipality in Salisbury’s vicinity.
Stretches of the mountains received as much as 6 inches.
Moore said parts of Rowan County received more snow than other parts. Generally, the snow was slightly heavier in the southeastern part of Rowan than in the northwestern portion.
“It’s been spotty,” Moore admitted.
He said Wednesday’s high wouldn’t top out at much more than freezing, meaning precipitation on secondary roads would likely freeze overnight, presenting the possibility of a problem with black ice this morning.
“The primary roads are traveled enough during the day to where anything that melts will dry off,” Moore said. “But anything that melts on the secondary roads is likely to refreeze.”
There were a number of weather-related traffic accidents reported late Tuesday and early Wednesday. Capt. Chuck Adams of the Kannapolis Police Department said officers there investigated eight motor vehicle accidents between 9 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Most, he said, were single-vehicle accidents where motorists hit ice and their cars slid off the road.
A dispatcher for the N.C. Highway Patrol said troopers were busy throughout the day Wednesday, but had no figures as to how their workload compared to most shifts.
Steve Weatherford, Salisbury’s street division manager, said the city’s bus service didn’t start until 10:15 a.m. Wednesday because of the weather. Typically, buses begin running at 6 a.m.
Salisbury’s City Hall also operated on a two-hour delay because of the weather.
Weatherford said the situation could have been worse had crews not worked throughout the night spreading salt and sand.
“We were lucky,” Weatherford said. “We had some minor icing, but nothing too serious.”
He said the street division didn’t receive any calls from police asking for salt to be spread at accident sites.
Weatherford said most of the city’s streets were free of ice by early afternoon, though he said there were exceptions on stretches blocked from direct sunlight.
Chuck White, county maintenance engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said the trouble with spreading salt on roadways when the temperature falls as low as it was supposed to fall early this morning is that it’s too cold for the chemicals to react and do their job.
The temperature was supposed to drop into the teens overnight.
White said when it’s that cold, the salt is first sprayed with salt brine, which speeds the salt’s reaction time.
“We’ll be here around the clock,” White said of work that members of his staff would be doing last night and early this morning.
White said he was concerned the frigid conditions would result in black ice on back, country roads.
He said workers with his department would be in radio contact with representatives of the Rowan-Salisbury School System early this morning. If there were places where salt needed to be spread, the DOT workers would respond.
“It’s a lot harder to drive on ice than snow,” White said. “I hope we get to have school, but we’ll have to wait and see.”