Forecasters are calling for winter weather for much of the Carolinas beginning this afternoon.
The National Weather Service is calling for a slight chance of rain or snow after 3 p.m. for Richmond County, with more rain and snow likely before 11 p.m. They predict that will be followed by freezing rain, possibly mixed with sleet.
Saturday looks to be a bit more messy with freezing rain and sleet predicted and a high near 33. Saturday night there’s a chance of snow before midnight.
County Manager Rick Sago said the county is just making sure they’re prepared for the worst.
“We’re doing what we do all the time,” he said. “Making sure we’re prepared. I have sent all forecast information to department heads and power outages is what can cause water department problems, so they’re doing everything to make sure they’re prepared — making sure generators are operating, checking chain saws, gauges, making sure they’re prepared. We’re always trying to be prepared, but we make sure we go a little further when there is a forecast of ice or snow.”
Sago said the decision to close county offices because of weather will come later in the day.
“We’ll play it by ear,” he said. “I won’t put anyone’s life in danger.”
Frank McKay with Richmond County Emergency Management said, “We’re just trying to lay out plans as far as staffing in case we need to increase staff. It’s sort of wait and see right now, it’s got a long way to come.”
McKay said he thinks the worst of the weather will be Saturday, though he’s hoping there’s none at all.
“They’ve predicted three-fourths to half an inch of ice in some areas and half an inch of ice is detrimental to us, so hopefully we won’t have it,” he added. “In 2000 we were up to our ears in snow and no one called for it, but we got through it, and we’ll get through it if it happens again. We’ll do the best we can.”
The Humane Society of Richmond County has announced that it will be closed to the public if the weather gets bad. The outdoor drop-off area will also be closed to the public due to the extremely cold weather. Core humane society personnel will be available to receive animals on an emergency basis only. Call 895-0335, 895-8989 or 995-3400 for assistance.
Richmond County Animal Control will operate on an on-call schedule, and in the event of an animal control emergency contact the sheriff’s office at 997-8283 or dial 911. Within the city limits of Rockingham, call the Rockingham Police Department at 895-2468.
Because the state is forecasted to see ice during this storm, the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) has already has crews in many counties pre-treating the highways. They plan to continue spraying salt brine on these heavily traveled roads until precipitation starts falling.
Crews are also checking equipment such as plows and spreaders and preparing to work special shifts to conduct snow removal.
The DOT warns if travel is absolutely necessary, motorists should use the following precautions: Clear windows and mirrors; reduce speed and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles. Bridges and overpasses accumulate ice first - approach them with extreme caution and do not apply your breaks while on the bridge, if you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car; come to a complete stop or yield the right of way when approaching an intersection where traffic lights are out — treat this scenario as a four-way stop.
And if you have a cell phone, take it with you and in the event on an emergency, call Highway Patrol by dialing star HP (*47) or dial 911.
Staff writer Eren Tataragasi can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19 or at email@example.com.