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Winter blast takes aim at Rowan area

By Steve Huffman

Salisbury Post

This may be one of those days best suited for polar bears. Or eskimos.

So Rowan County residents might be advised to stay hunkered down in their igloos today.

As of late Wednesday, forecasters were expecting a mixed bag of precipitation to be headed this way. Exactly what it amounts to is anyone’s guess.

Patrick Moore, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greenville, S.C., said Piedmont North Carolina can expect a wintry mix to arrive about daybreak today. He said the precipitation is likely to start as light snow or sleet, then change to sleet and freezing rain.

Moore said the accumulation is likely to be about a half-inch of sleet and a quarter-inch of ice.

“And temperatures are going to be struggling to get out of the low-30s all day,” Moore said.

He said the winter weather is the result of a low pressure system situated off the coast. Moore said that if the system pushes inland more than anticipated, it could result in additional accumulation of snow and/or ice.

But Moore said forecasters don’t expect a major ice storm like the one that paralyzed the area in December 2002.

John Thomason, road maintenance supervisor for the Rowan District of the N.C. Department of Transportation, said his workers were busy throughout the day Wednesday preparing for today’s storm. Trucks dumped salt brine along Interstate 85 as well as all of the area’s other primary roads and the majority of its secondary roads.

Thomason said the brine creates a barrier that helps keep ice from freezing to asphalt. He said workers were planning to return to their trucks about 5 this morning, dumping pure salt if necessary.

“And the trucks can be outfitted with plows if needed,” Thomason said.

He said he was at as much a loss as anyone to predict today’s weather.

“It’s kind of just wait and see,” Thomason said. “It’s one of those mixtures that’s coming in.”

Though the temperature is expected to climb to the mid-50s on Friday, Moore, the National Weather Service meteorologist, said another chance of winter weather looms not far in the distance.

He said long-range forecasts call for a chance of more frozen precipitation within days.

“Another winter event is possible either Sunday night or Monday morning,” Moore said.

He admitted that plenty can change in the coming days, but also noted, “It’s something we’re going to keep our eyes on.”

News of school postponements or cancellations are announced on local television and radio stations, and can also be heard by calling the Rowan-Salisbury School System’s Weather Hotline at 704-216-0220 or accessing the school system’s Web site at: www.rss.k12.nc.us.

Contact Steve Huffman at 704-797-4222 or shuffman@salisburypost.com.

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