ROCKINGHAM — Wednesday’s snowfall has left “treacherous” conditions on all of Richmond County’s secondary roads off of the major highways but power outages have been minimal, according to Emergency Services Director Donna Wright.
The National Weather Service on Thursday issued a Winter Weather Advisory which will remain in effect until 7 a.m. Saturday. The service issued an additional Wind Chill Advisory which will remain in effect from 8 p.m. Thursday night to 10 a.m Friday. The advisory warned of black ice which results from ice melting during the day and refreezing at night.
Cold temperatures will combine with strong winds to bring wind chills down to between zero and five degrees. This level of wind chill can cause frostbite in as little as 20 to 30 minutes on exposed skin, according to the National Weather Service.
Between 3 p.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday, there were 14 snow-related wrecks in Richmond County which is “a little more than normal,” Wright said.
Residents should not travel unless they have to, she said, and, “if you have to, exercise patience and be mindful of other drivers.”
Richmond County Schools announced Thursday afternoon that schools would be closed Friday, Jan. 5 for all students and staff.
Duke Energy spokesperson Grace Rountree said the impact of the snow on power service was “very minimal” in Richmond County over the course of Wednesday night. She said there was at least one customer who reported an outage but it has since been repaired.
“There’s higher stress on our mechanical equipment when the temperature gets as low as it has been,” Rountree said. Duke did not have data on how many instances of power “blinking” there were Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Ashley Haynes, communication specialist for Pee Dee Electric, said there were no power outages for their Richmond County customers. She added that “there’s always the potential for outages” in snowy conditions like the area had but that Pee Dee isn’t expecting any issues in the coming days.
Rockingham Police Chief Billy Kelly said there were five accidents in the city, but no major injuries were reported. Police were called to assist drivers who were having trouble getting up hills, according to Kelly.
Rockingham Fire Chief Harold Isler said it’s been “pretty quiet” within their Rockingham jurisdiction. RFD responded to one wreck on Highway 74 and a fire alarm at the hospital but nothing serious.
“I’m pretty surprised myself,” he said.
In the northern part of the county, Norman Mayor Kenneth Broadway said the country roads were dangerous but there hadn’t been any injuries that he was aware of.
“As far as I know everything is going well. Some of the back roads are nasty but other than that, we’re handling as best we can,” he said. “The sun is shining but it’s still not going to be able to melt everything.”
In Ellerbe, Mayor Lee Berry said things are “just about back to normal” in town as of early Thursday afternoon, but side roads still have ice. There were no wrecks or power outages, and Thursday’s scheduled trash pick up was moved to Friday for safety reasons.
Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected]