Haywood prepares for a storm

By Vicki Hyatt | Jan 06, 2017

With weather forecasts calling for up to 4 inches of snowfall in certain parts of Haywood, efforts began early Friday to prepare for the storm event.

Ken Thomas, Haywood Electric Membership Corporation spokesman, said the cooperative is ready to deal with whatever the storm brings.

“Crews are ready, trucks are stocked, the warehouse is stocked and we’re standing by,” Thomas said.

The storm path is projecting more snow in the eastern part of the state, particularly Raleigh where up to 12 inches of snowfall could accumulate. Thomas said cooperatives there have asked if any crews from HEMC will be available.

“I told them we weren’t sending anybody down until we saw what’s going on here,” he said.

HEMC serves eight counties and reports outages both by county and community. Continue to check The Mountaineer website for the latest updates and photos.

Haywood County Schools dismissed classes at 11 a.m. in preparation for the 2-4 inches of snowfall projected in the area.

“We typically need three hours to get kids home and get the buses back,” said Todd Trantham, director of transportation and technology for the system.

He was in the Hemphill Road area at 2:20 and observed that the roads were white with snow cover, which he said indicated the call was a right one.

“We don’t always call it right, but we did this time,” Trantham explained. “Sometimes people look at the roads and wonder, ‘why are they calling school off?’” he said, “but we’re looking at what the roads will look like three hours later.”

He said it is a hard call to send students home in midday, noting that safety is the top priority at all times.

Motorists who encounter problems on the roadway are reminded to not leave their vehicles abandoned on the shoulders of public roadways.  For the safety of the traveling public and to ensure plow and salt trucks can effectively work to clear roads, state officials are working together to identify and move abandoned vehicles that are blocking travel lanes or posing an immediate safety hazard.

Under the current State of Emergency and North Carolina's quick clearance law, the N.C. Department of Transportation's Incident Management Assistance Patrol trucks are moving cars abandoned in the roadway to the shoulder where possible. In other cases, the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement are coordinating with towing companies to move vehicles left on the shoulder to a safe location.

Troopers, National Guard soldiers, other law enforcement and IMAP crews are checking all abandoned cars to make sure there are no people inside who need assistance.

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Friday because of the winter storm expected to cover most of North Carolina with four to seven inches of snow during the next 36 hours.

The governor’s inaugural activities scheduled for the weekend were cancelled, and the emergency declaration enables state resources to be mobilized to respond to storm challenges.

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 has officially been activated to coordinate storm response. State leaders are urging the public to stay off the roadways whenever possible.

Temperatures are not expected to rise much above freezing throughout the weekend and 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.

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.

Travelers are urged to call 511 or go to www.ncdot.org for up to date roadway conditions.

While a snow storm may be dreaded by many, that’s not the case at Cataloochee Ski Area, which thrives when temperatures dip and snow blankets the mountain.

The slopes and Tony’s Tube World were advertised as being open until 10 p.m. Friday.

The Mountaineer will be posting updates on road conditions, power outages and snowfall across the county regularly both on this website and its Facebook page. Send photos and reports about conditions or accidents encountered to news@themountaineer.com.