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County braces for Winter Storm Watch

Only three months since Stanly County braced for a pair of hurricanes, locals are preparing for the season’s first winter storm nearly two weeks before the start of winter.

Weekend forecasts are calling for a wintry mix to begin over the weekend. Residents should expect rain, sleet and snow. Accumulations are forecast to vary across central and western North Carolina.

Stanly’s Emergency Services has already been preparing for the winter storm, which has included coordinating with state partners, according to Brian T. Simpson, director.

“We have been in preparation mode since yesterday,” Simpson said. “Basically, we have been pushing situational awareness info regarding the event. From a preparedness standpoint, checking equipment, fueling everything and scheduling stand-by employees.”

On Friday Gov. Roy Cooper issued a statement encouraging North Carolinians to get ready as the State Emergency Response Team makes its preparations.

“This storm comes at a time of year when North Carolinians are usually hearing carols about snow, not actually seeing it. But this time, the real thing is headed our way and North Carolina is getting prepared,” Cooper said. “A winter storm’s not a Christmas carol snow. It’s serious, and you need to take steps now to get your family ready.”

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for portions of the mountains from 7 p.m. Saturday to noon Monday. A Winter Storm Warning means significant amounts of snow, sleet and ice will make travel very hazardous or impossible.

A Winter Storm Watch is in effect for much of western and central North Carolina starting Saturday evening or early Sunday morning through Monday night. A Winter Storm Watch means there is the potential for significant snow, sleet and freezing rain that will likely impact travel.

“I would highly encourage everyone to prepare your homes with food, fuel and just prepare to stay in Sunday and off the roads,” Simpson said.

People in the North Carolina mountains and foothills can expect the most snow, more than a foot in some areas. The Triad area can expect as much as a foot of snow and sleet. Charlotte can also expect significant snow and sleet, according to Cooper’s press release.

In the Triangle area, the current forecast shows 2 to 6 inches, with those higher amounts in the west toward Durham and less snow farther east toward Raleigh. Areas east and south of Raleigh may only see less than an inch of snow. Eastern North Carolina could face heavy rain, coastal flooding, gusty winds and beach erosion from the storm.

“My advice to keep your family safe through the storm: gather your emergency supplies, follow weather forecasts closely and be prepared to stay put for a few days when the storm rolls in and the roads become slick,” Cooper said.

Cooper was expected to declare a statewide State of Emergency Friday while also activating the N.C. National Guard to help where needed.

Crews with the N.C. Department of Transportation are pretreating roadways and readying equipment to clear roadways of snow and ice. To respond to the storm, NCDOT has at the ready about 3,000 staff, 2,400 trucks with snow plows, and more than 135,000 tons of salt.

Residents are encouraged to:

• Keep enough non-perishable food in your home for 3 days;

• Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights;

• Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing;

• Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never burn charcoal or operate grills indoors;

• Monitor changing forecasts and weather conditions closely; and

• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.

Residents are also encouraged to check on neighbors, especially the elderly and disabled, and include pets in their emergency plans.