Winter storm dumps Saturday school on students
By Sarah Campbell
Rowan-Salisbury School System students got another day off but will have to give up a Saturday as a winter storm forced system officials to cancel classes a second day.
Kannapolis schools are closed again today as well.
School officials will be keeping an eye on the weather as a forecaster says the snow and ice that were expected to blanket Rowan County won’t be disappearing anytime soon.
A winter storm that moved into the state early Monday dumped snow that forced scores of closings and delays, including government offices, courts and businesses.
Forecasters said sleet and frozen rain would mix with the snow early this morning. Gov Bev. Perdue declared a state of emergency across North Carolina.
“Once again, we have a winter storm that will impact almost the entire state with some type of frozen precipitation,” Perdue said in a press release. “We know travel will be hazardous … into Tuesday, so we’re urging everyone be safe. Don’t take any unnecessary risks if you don’t have to and exercise caution if you must travel.”
National Weather Service meteorologist Blair Holloway said with high temperatures expected to hover slightly above freezing and lows dipping down into the mid teens, melting could take some time.
The Rowan-Salisbury and Kannapolis City school systems heeded that warning, canceling classes Monday and again today.
Although Rowan-Salisbury students will get another snow day, they’ll lose two days they had off later this month, Jan. 21 and Jan. 22, a Saturday.
Rita Foil, a spokeswoman for the Rowan-Salisbury system, said this is the first time students have attended classes on a Saturday since Dr. Judy Grissom took over as superintendent in 2006.
When Rowan-Salisbury conducts classes on a Saturday, students, teachers and staff arrive at the normal time. However, students are dismissed three hours earlier than normal.
Feb. 18 and 21 — a Friday and a Monday — will become school days for Kannapolis students.
Foil said the Rowan-Salisbury superintendency team discussed a number of options when it met Monday, including what to do if weather conditions present problems throughout the week.
“It’s all going to depend upon the weather, and we’ll just play it day by day,” Foil said. “We’re going to hope that the weather cooperates and the sun comes out. It’s just hard to say.”
Holloway said about 2 inches of snow covered the area Monday, but that figure was likely to rise.
“We will continue to see sleet and freezing raining into late morning” today he said.
Holloway said Rowan County could expect to see up to an additional 2 inches of snow.
And, he said, “nuisance precipitation” could potentially dump a tenth of an inch of ice on top.
“Any additional glaze will make travel very treacherous,” Holloway said. “Patchy black ice will be an issue basically through the end of the week,” he said.
As the precipitation tapers off this morning, the area will be dry throughout the rest of the week, with temperatures climbing into the 40s by Saturday.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol had not responded to any serious vehicle accidents in Rowan County by Monday evening.
Sgt. B.E. Hower said drivers took precautions, slowing down as they head out on snow-covered roads.
“We have not had an unusually high number of collisions,” he said.
Hower attributes the low number of incidents to the work done by N.C. Department of Transportation crews.
“The biggest thing that has helped us is that the DOT has put out the salt brine solution and has been scraping the road this morning,” he said.
Local school districts canceling classes Monday helped minimize the amount of traffic on the roads, Hower said.
Across North Carolina, state troopers had responded to more than 1,100 calls for service between midnight and noon Monday.
The collisions did not result in any injuries.
“The best antidote for a collision is don’t drive,” Hower said.
Hower said if motorists do hit the roads they should “travel well below the posted speed limit” and pack an emergency kit equipped with a flashlight, blankets, radio and cell phone.
“They should be prepared just in case they are stranded,” he said.
Getting the job done
City mail carrier Ken Pruette said the snow didn’t slow him down Monday.
“Out here today it’s a piece of cake,” he said. “I mean it’s just another day at the office for us, two inches of snow is nothing.”
In his 18 years as a U.S. Postal worker, Pruette said he’s seen his fair share of inclement weather.
He recalls the worst winter weather he ever endured in 1993, when about eight inches of snow fell on the area.
“I was driving my own vehicle at that time …. I had to stop and put chains on,” he said. “There were a couple of times when I almost slid into a mailbox, which is a big no-no.
“If you take a job at the post office you know you’re going to be out here.”
Pruette said it typically takes him about six hours to complete his route, which begins on Craig Street.
That time can increase by about half an hour if conditions are icy.
“The best thing that customers can do for the Post Office when there is inclement weather such as snow or ice is clear their steps,” he said. “They are really difficult to get down sometimes without slipping and we don’t want to fall either, but we do want to get our customers their mail.”
Others were working Monday, too.
Mark Fry blew snow off cars at Salisbury Motor Co. on West Innes Street. He said that would make it easier to clear ice off the cars this morning. He also used the gas-powered leaf blower to clear paths through the dealership’s lot.
Dr. Stephen Proctor pushed a snow shovel across the parking lot at his Statesville Boulevard practice Monday morning even though he wasn’t expecting patients.
He said it might be an “exercise in futility” with more snow and ice in the forecast, but he had 200 pounds of salt to spread and wanted to get it down.
“I figure debulking, to use a medical term, is a good idea,” he said. “The less I have on the parking lot, the sooner it will melt.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683. Scott Jenkins contributed.