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Year’s first winter storm more slush than snow

SALISBURY — The long-awaited snow from the first winter storm of 2013 didn’t quite live up to the hype.

Sightings of snow coming down in Rowan County started about 9 p.m.

It was enough to turn some roads white and slushy, and made for some pretty pictures, even if it wasn’t the 2 to 5 inches that various forecasters had predicted.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools opted to close for the day. Kannapolis Schools have now opted to close, after initially planning a a two-hour delay, and Cabarrus County Schools are closed.

The Department of Transportation put down a salty mix overnight, but slushy and icy spots remain due to the temperature of 29 degrees.

Schools canceled classes and athletic events Thursday evening after winter storm warnings.

Warnings prompted Catawba and Livingstone colleges to cancel their evening classes and the Rowan-Salisbury School System to cancel all sporting events.

Salisbury Academy also is operating on a two-hour delay. Sacred Heart Catholic School is closed.

Catawba College will open at 10 a.m. today. Classes that start before 10 a.m. have been canceled, and the college is telling students, faculty and staff to “use best judgment in traveling to campus.”

Rowan-Cabarrus Community College remained open Thursday evening, but will open at 10 a.m. today, with classes before 10 canceled.

Livingstone College will be operating on a two-hour delay today.

Salisbury’s Hefner VA Medical Center will open at 10 a.m. today.

After 2012 came and went with virtually no snowfall, anticipation of the winter storm sent locals rushing to get supplies.

“We sold completely out of ice melt,” said Jeremy Prevette, assistant store manager at Lowe’s Home Improvement on Faith Road.

“We don’t sell milk or bread, or we’d be out of that,” he joked.

Around 7 p.m., he was helping unpack plastic jugs of snow-melting crystals.

But the big bags had disappeared earlier in the day, department manager Susan Keith said.

Snow shovels and sleds were on display near the door, and those had also sold rapidly.

“Most likely, it’s going to sit on the garage shelf, but you’ve got to be prepared,” Prevette said.

“We’re like a bunch of little kids waiting for it to snow,” Keith said.

Nearby, Food Lion assistant store manager Edgar McMahan said his store had been bustling all afternoon.

“It was unbelievable, how busy it’s been,” McMahan said. The store called in extra staff to help with the rush.

Still, the milk and bread — perennial pre-snow purchases — were fairly well stocked.

Karen Biernacki, who lives in Rowan County near Woodleaf, said she needed pet food more than those staples.

Around 9:45 p.m., a band of heavy snow moved through Salisbury, whitening cars and depositing a layer of slush on roads.

There were reports of several cars in the ditch off U.S. 601 outside of town.

N.C. Department of Transportation crews in Rowan and elsewhere outfitted their trucks with plows and spreaders early Thursday.

Salt and sand were ready to be spread, an agency spokeswoman said Thursday, with crews standing by in case road conditions deteriorated.

Heavy rains throughout the day were followed by gusting winds as night fell.

There were several reports of downed trees and limbs around the county.

The Kannapolis Fire Department reported a tree had fallen onto a home on Wilson Street in the Carver community.

Firefighters arrived to find the tree landed in the center of a single family home.

Crews secured the area and confirmed that those in the home had escaped without injury.

Another tree fell onto power lines on Mt. Hope Church Road, according to Rowan County emergency dispatchers.

The storm, which was expected to dump up to 8 inches of snow on the North Carolina mountains, could also leave treacherous conditions for local drivers this morning.

Overnight temperatures in the 20s could bring a new problem this morning in the form of “black ice” — patches of ice that are difficult to see on asphalt roads.

But, with highs expected to be in the mid-40s today, it’s likely that the season’s first winter storm will be a memory by the time the sun goes down today.

Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.

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