Icy Friday across Rowan

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 25, 2013

SALISBURY — Drivers are urged to use caution this morning as ice that collected on the roads Friday begins to melt.

Temperatures are expected to stay below freezing, keeping road conditions hazardous, until mid-morning today.

“If people travel in the early morning where it’s below freezing, there could be freezing fog, which could cause additional ice to form on the ground and roads, especially bridges and overpasses,” said Jake Wimberley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

As the temperature rises to a high above 40 degrees, Willis said, today’s sunny weather should quickly clear all but some shady spots on the roads. He said the Rowan County area will see a few more cool days before warming to the mid-60s on Tuesday.

Sleet and freezing rain fell intermittently Friday, causing dangerous driving conditions across the county.

Rowan-Salisbury School System and Kannapolis City School System dismissed classes early Friday, and a number of other schools, organizations and businesses shortened their days.

Some events set for Friday or today have been canceled or delayed. These include:

• Rowan-Cabarrus Community College has canceled classes today.

• Catawba College School of Evening and Graduate Studies classes are delayed until 10 a.m. today.

• The SAT exams scheduled for today at Carson High School, North Rowan High School and Salisbury High School are canceled and rescheduled for Feb. 16.

• Livingstone College plans to hold weekend classes as scheduled today.

• The Winter Flight 8K and associated events will be delayed one hour today, organizers say.

Early packet pickup and late registration set for tonight at Catawba College’s Goodman Gym is canceled.

Race-day registration will now begin at 9 a.m. and continue through 10:45 a.m. A fun run will start at 10:30 a.m., with the 8K and the Health Walk 5K starting at 11 a.m.

“The race committee assessed the forecast for Saturday, which currently is a high 47 degrees and sunny, and have concluded that we will run all of these races on Saturday,” Salisbury Rowan Runners said in a news release.

The race committee could delay the races for an additional hour if weather requires it, the release said.

All of the events are at Catawba College.

For updates, monitor www.salisburyrunners.org, the Salisbury Rowan Runners Facebook page and salisburypost.com. For more information, call 704-310-6741.

• The Andrew Jackson Society Dinner and Clement Cup Award set for Friday night has been postponed due to the weather and rescheduled for Friday, Feb. 22 at 6:30 p.m.

• The Kanepunch concert scheduled for Friday night at LGAC has been postponed to March.

Frank Thomason, Rowan County Emergency Services director, said the county had an increase in wrecks around 2 p.m. Friday. Conditions continued to worsen as more ice fell over the next few hours before tapering off in the early evening.

He said he expected to see accumulations in some areas of two-tenths or three-tenths of an inch. With that amount, he said, power outages aren’t likely.

“Whatever falls is going to stay,” Thomason said. “There will be slick spots throughout the night and into the morning, until the temperature gets up above freezing to start melting it off the roadways.”

N.C. Highway Patrol troopers had trouble keeping up with all the accident calls Friday, according to emergency radio communications. Many resulted in property damage, but there were no serious injuries reported as of Friday evening. One trooper told a Post reporter at a wreck scene that people were simply driving too fast for conditions.

Just after 1 p.m., a pickup truck rolled over and into a ditch on Chenault Road in northwestern Rowan County. The two people in the vehicle declined treatment for minor injuries.

When a Post reporter asked what happened, firefighters with the Rowan-Iredell Fire Department scraped the road with their boots, revealing a thin coating of slushy ice.

“That happened,” they said.
Thomas Morgan, 26, then totaled his Ford Explorer Friday afternoon, when he lost control and the SUV flipped onto its top on Stone Road, just outside of Granite Quarry,

“I was coming up a hill and things started getting squirrely on me,” he said.

Morgan said he wasn’t injured in the accident because he was wearing his seatbelt.

“If I hadn’t been, I would’ve been thrown under the car or into a yard,” he said.

Morgan, who lives on Stone Road, said he was testing out the road in a vehicle that’s been sitting in his yard for about a year. It was not injured or registered, which mean he’ll face charges.

N.C. State Highway Patrol Sgt. K.L. Blakley said Morgan will also be charged for exceeding safe speed for the conditions and having bare tires.

Blakley said the majority of car accidents that occurred Friday were because drivers were going too fast.

“Slow down,” he said.
Craig Powers, Salisbury’s street division manager, said city crews in four trucks sprayed the roads with a mixture of sand and salt. They started with emergency routes, bridges and overpasses, then moved through neighborhoods while concentrating on trouble spots.

“Any intersections and hills are your worst areas,” Powers said. “Make sure you give yourself enough time to slow down at intersections. If you don’t, you’ll slide right through them.”

In the early afternoon Friday, he said, the city attached chains to the trucks’ tires to keep them from sliding. He said crews had begun to see a number of cars slipping and sliding on the ice.

City workers began spraying the salt and sand a day ahead of time, Powers said. He said brine solutions work best when they have time to dry, allowing the salt stick to the roads before precipitation starts.

The N.C. Department of Transportation also began treating the roads early. On Thursday, 21 workers used 13 pieces of equipment to spray 46,400 gallons of salt brine on Rowan highways, said Communications Officer Dara Demi.

A total of 39 people in 25 trucks continued the work on Friday. They monitored conditions along major roads and primary routes, including I-85, applying salt when they found icy spots.

But she warned that just because a road is salted doesn’t mean it is clear.

“Primary routes and interstates are fairly clear, but we also have icy spots,” Demi said late Friday afternoon. “Rural roads out in the county are icy at this point.”

She said transportation department crews would be out again this morning to treat remaining trouble spots.

Until the ice melts, Demi said, “we need people to drive slowly, drive cautiously and pay attention.”

Sarah Campbell contributed to this report.