The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

February 17, 2014

Mother Nature blankets Stanly County 8.5 inches white

By Ritchie Starnes, News Editor

Monday, February 17, 2014 — Sunny skies and warming temperatures Friday helped thaw Stanly County as crews again worked to clear snow and ice covered roads.

Road maintenance crews turned their attention on secondary roads to plow away this winter’s most significant snow that closed schools, businesses and governmental offices for consecutive days.

Overall, Stanly County fared well during this past week’s winter storm that dumped roughly 8 inches of snow and a 2 tenths of an inch of sleet on the area, according to the National Weather Service.

Snow and ice-slickened streets led to numerous closures and cancellations, but a minimal number of wrecks and power outages. The only reported injury was that of an Oakboro police officer who was trying to assist a stranded motorist when he slipped and fell and injured his back, Chief Joe Lowder said.

Oakboro and Locust reported only a handful of crashes due to the inclement weather. A number of others skidded off into ditches, officers said.

“We were really fortunate that everyone stayed at home,” Lowder said.

Oakboro sustained a public scare of another kind during the storm.

“Our main water tank sprang a leak and we lost several hundred gallons of water,” Lowder said.

“The main concern was our ability for firefighting, but we had plenty in reserve and it didn’t come down to that.”

Albemarle police reported 13 crashes during the snow.

No figures were available Friday from the N.C. Highway Patrol.

By all accounts Wednesday’s afternoon commute home posed the most significant inconvenience of the week, with motorists spending hours on the road home as traffic moved at a snail’s pace as a precaution. It was at that time that the snow began to fall quickly and consistently.

Gerald Yates said it took him four hours to drive six miles. He left the YMCA in Albemarle for Woodrun in Montgomery County when the drive went awry, mainly due to an ice-slickened Garrison Bridge.

“I arrived home shaking and extremely thankful for Jesus, his angels’ forgiveness and God Almighty,” Yates said via email.

The first round of snow arrived Tuesday when temperatures remained above freezing. There was accumulation on the ground while the roads remained only wet. The National Weather Service said this first front, and separate from the round on Wednesday and Thursday, left 1.5 inches of snow and a base for the heavier round that followed over the next two days. Sleet fell between rounds of snow on Wednesday and again Thursday.

Forecasters warned that ice-covered power lines could cause outages, but only a few in the county endured no electricity.

Union Power reported 42 outages in the Locust and Ridgecrest area. Duke Power had only a few to lose power while the city of Albemarle had only three outages, mostly due to downed tree limbs, a spokeswoman said Friday.

Other than snarling traffic Wednesday afternoon, the other dismal result of the storm were businesses who lost commerce due to closures. Most re-opened Friday.

“For safety reasons a lot of businesses didn’t want their employees trying to get to work,” said Shannon Johnson, executive director of Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation.

Stanly County Schools remained closed for the third straight day Friday along with county government that opted for another day off because of inclement weather conditions.

While only few motorists ventured out Thursday and with downtown businesses closed, crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation spent the day plowing primary roads, followed by side streets throughout Friday.

A threat of black ice remained a concern for following nights when the temperatures were expected to dip.

DOT had 3,100 employees working around the clock statewide, with 1,468 plows and spreaders, 300 graders and 549 contract trucks and graders on the roads. Since Monday, the department has spread 35,969 tons of salt and 13,616 tons of salt and sand mix, according to DOT officials.

To submit story ideas, contact Ritchie Starnes at (704) 982-2121 ext. 28 or email