Snow could leave some socked in for days

January 6, 2017 GMT

With significant snow in the forecast, the North Carolina Department of Transportation says its priority is clearing off major roads and highways first. That can mean delays of days until secondary and neighborhood streets are passable.

Central North Carolina could see up to 7 inches of snow fall beginning Friday night and into Saturday. The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories for most counties in central and eastern North Carolina through 7 p.m. Saturday.

“We’re expecting road conditions to deteriorate late (Friday night),” said WRAL’s Brian Shrader. “Overnight, it’s going to become very dangerous to travel.”

The DOT had deployed 40 trucks and 150 employees Friday to spread brine, the salt-and-water mixture that helps asphalt roads resist frozen precipitation. By late afternoon, preliminary brining was complete on interstates and major secondary roads.

While snow will fall from Friday into Saturday, the worst road conditions are expected from Saturday into Sunday, when temperatures fall to less than 20 degrees and frozen precipitation hardens, the DOT said.

The State Highway Patrol, in hopes of avoiding another gridlock like the one seen in February 2014, warned motorists to stay off snowy roads if possible and to avoid abandoning vehicles along major routes.

Under state law, cars left along the road can be towed, and the agency that tows it is not responsible for any damage.

According to the DOT, the top cause of accidents in inclement weather is speeding. Those who must go out should go slow and leave adequate distance between vehicles. Drivers should use special caution on bridges, which freeze before surface roads.

Across the state, the NCDOT has 1,900 trucks equipped with plows and spreaders, 495 front-end loaders and backhoes, and 332 motor graders to help move the snow quickly.

In south Raleigh, the DOT planned to keep at least two lanes open on Interstate 40 through the Fortify construction zone, spokesman Steve Abbott said.

“Depending on the amount of snow, the third lane might have to be used to hold the plowed snow,” Abbott said. ”(That is) another reason for people to stay off the roads this weekend.”

Once the snow falls, crews will begin clearing major interstates and highways first, Shrader said, followed by secondary streets and then neighborhoods.

“This takes a long time,” Shrader said. “You see miles and miles of roads they have to clear before they can get to those secondary roads and neighborhood streets.

“The key here, if this is your first your first winter storm in North Carolina, you’re going to have to be patient. It’s going to take time to get those roads cleared.”