Effects of winter storm to linger

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, December 11, 2018

By Andie Foley
andie.foley@salisburypost.com

Precipitation from Winter Storm Diego may be over for Rowan County, but effects will continue to linger as temperatures dipped well below freezing overnight.

The temperature dip is sure to refreeze melted and slushy snow across roadways, leading to treacherous road conditions. Rowan-Salisbury Schools and Kannapolis City Schools have canceled classes for Dec. 11.

Catawba College and Hood Theological Seminary will also be closed. Livingstone College will open at 10 a.m. and Rowan-Cabarrus will resume classes at 1 p.m.

Mike Hedrick, Rowan County maintenance engineer with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said that road crews would continue to treat roads with plowing and salt before temperatures reached freezing. Most neighborhood roads had been plowed by 4:30 p.m. Monday, he said.

The problem, he said, was that once melted snow freezes on pavement, it becomes nearly impossible to scrape.

Hedrick said areas most at risk would be those near work zones along Interstate 85 and Highway 29: anywhere there was temporary jersey bordering.

Snow accumulated in heavy drifts along these barriers, he said, leading to lots of runoff as temperatures reached 40 degrees on Monday.

Hedrick said six trucks will be on standby Monday night into early Tuesday morning to address problem areas. The rest of his crew will be sent home to recuperate from well over 40 consecutive hours of plowing and salting, he said.

“Anything that does freeze, it’s going to be on in the day before we can do anything with it,” he said.

As for how the county has yet fared in the storm, Emergency Services Chief Chris Soliz said Monday that things were “OK.”

“We were bracing, as we prepared for all this, for worst case scenarios,” he said. “But, it turned out that it was moderate for any damage or emergency.”

Soliz said there had been some motor vehicle accidents, including one tractor-trailer that overturned. The incident had not resulted in any major damage or injuries, he said.

First Sergeant G.A. Barger with the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the interstate had been the biggest area of concern for accidents, as people were traveling at higher speeds.

Incidents had increased from normal, but mostly consisted of skidding into ditches or posts.

Other results from the storm were to be expected: fallen trees and down power lines leading to power outages, Soliz said.

Some 62 storm-related 911 calls had been received, mostly relating to these trees and electrical hazards. The eastern part of the county was hardest hit. By early afternoon, some 2,400 homes were without power in Rowan and 800 in Cabarrus.

By 5 p.m., these numbers had dropped to just below 900 for Rowan and below 600 for Cabarrus.

Salisbury-Rowan Utilities director Jim Behmer said three lift stations had lost power and were operating on generators in Granite Quarry and Rockwell on Monday morning.

The city also experienced a water main break on North Arlington Street near the Chick-fil-a and Burger King. 

Rowan County remains under a winter storm advisory until 11 a.m. Tuesday morning. Soliz advised residents to not let their guard down and look out for black ice as they travel. He suggested giving¬† plenty of stopping distance, driving slowly, and “just be(ing) patient.”

“We’re continually working with DOT, Salisbury Roads and Street Division, Duke Energy and other power companies just to keep on top of things,” he said. “We’re going to keep on monitoring until we’re all dry and cleared up.”

Reporter Liz Moomey contributed to this story.