Governor Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency on Friday ahead of a winter storm that is expected to cover most of North Carolina with four to seven inches of snow this weekend.
Governor Cooper, who has cancelled inaugural activities scheduled for Saturday, said the State Emergency Response Team is preparing for the approaching winter storm and recommended that residents do the same.
“Our emergency management and transportation crews have been working with local officials throughout the week to make sure we’re prepared and informed about potentially hazardous weather conditions,”said Governor Cooper. “Please, do your part by paying attention to the weather forecast, following instructions from local officials and putting safety first.”
Friday morning, Governor Cooper signed two executive orders to expedite storm response. The State of Emergency declaration enables the governor to mobilize the necessary resources to respond to a storm and is the first step in seeking federal funds to help defray eligible storm-related costs. The executive order waives restrictions on weight and the hours of service for fuel, utility and other truck drivers that may be working to deliver supplies, restore services or clear storm debris.
Cooper said the State Emergency Operations Center will officially activate today to coordinate storm response and he directed the State Highway Patrol to work with other law enforcement and emergency responders statewide to mark abandoned vehicles to ensure that no one is left stranded in the dangerous weather. Additionally, he reminded motorists of the state’s quick clearance policy, instructing state transportation crews to clear the road by pushing to the shoulder any vehicles that may impede traffic.
Weather forecasts call for four to seven inches of snow across most of the state with one to four inches possible in southeastern counties. Counties along the northern coastal plain and north central parts of the state could see seven to 12 inches of snowfall. While widespread power outages are not expected across most of the state, there is an increased risk of power outages across portions of central and eastern North Carolina.
Temperatures are not expected to rise much above freezing throughout the weekend; in fact, low temperatures on Sunday will be in the single digits across most of the state. With anticipated accumulations and low temperatures, emergency management officials are not expecting road conditions to significantly improve until early next week.
“We cannot stress enough the importance of staying off the road this weekend,” urged Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “The snow may be fun to play in, but it will be dangerous to drive in. Don’t put yourself, your family or our emergency responders lives at risk.”
Hooks said the Highway Patrol is shifting resources to cover potential trouble spots. And troopers will be actively looking for abandoned vehicles and tagging cars to ensure motorist safety. Additionally, National Guard troops are on standby and prepared to respond as needed.
NCDOT has been working proactively in advance of winter weather, applying more than two million gallons of salt brine across the state’s roadways. Crews throughout the state will be working throughout the weekend proactively putting down salt and sand and clearing roads.
“Transportation crews have pretreated major routes, bridges and overpasses with salt brine to help prevent snow and ice from sticking to the roadways,” said Acting Transportation Secretary Mike Holder. “Once winter weather begins, we urge drivers to stay off the roads to protect themselves and our crews who will be working to clear the roads as quickly as possible.”