Mar 042014
 

reflector

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

An icy slush left on area roads from a winter storm has prompted several delays today, including an announcement from Pitt County Schools that it will cancel all classes. All extra-curricular activity also has been canceled by the school system.

Less than an inch of sleet and icy slush covered area roads before 9 p.m. Monday. Some were covered with ice sheets this morning while others were passable.

Traffic was moving on major thoroughfares this morning but law enfocrement officers were busy responding to wrecks throughout Pitt County.

Several stranded vehicles were left by the roadside on U.S. 264 overnight and a fender bender blocked traffic near North Campus Crossing. Wrecks were reported on Winterville Parkway and elsewhere.

The Greenville Police Department reported eight wrecks in the city overnight and advised motorists to stay off the roads if possible this morning.

The city of Greenville announced Monday night it will operate on a two-hour delay today. The city reported crews had been laying down salt and sand, “but roads are getting really icy around town.”

East Carolina University announced this morning it will open 11 a.m. Pitt Community College will open at 10 a.m..

Pitt County government announced it would open at 11 a.m. Tuesday. Greenville Utilities will open at 10 a.m. The utility reported no outages or other service problems due to the weather.

Pitt and surrounding counties remain under a winter weather advisory until 11 a.m. Tuesday. Sleet and rain had tapered off by 9:30 p.m. Monday.

A chance of freezing rain and sleet and freezing drizzle continued overnight with a low around 19, the Weather Service reported. The chance of precipitation was 40 percent.

Tuesday, a slight chance of rain or drizzle after was possible after 11 a.m. with a high of 37. Tuesday night, a slight chance of rain was possible. A chance of rain or freezing rain was possible after 1 a.m, Wednesday with a low around 31.

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The threat of inclement weather later today already has disrupted schedules and forced cancellations, including an announcement from ECU that it would cancel clasess after 5 p.m. today.

East Carolina University also announced classes would be delayed until 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday. For staff members, the adverse weather policy will begin at 5 p.m. today and continue until 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

ECU Physicians clinics and the School of Dental Medicine clinics at Ross Hall will continue operating on a normal schedule today. Patient appointments set before 9 a.m. Tuesday will be rescheduled.

The ECU Physicians Family Medicine Center night clinic and Pediatric Outpatient Center night clinic are cancelled for this evening.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for Pitt and surrounding counties. The service predicts a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain for late today in the Greenville area. The mixture will lead to treacherous road conditions, according to the weather service.

“There is a lingering chance of freezing drizzle changing to sleet and ice later on in the night, until midnight or 1 a.m. Tuesday, but no snow in the forecast,” NWS meteorologist Jim Merrell said.”

The weather is the result of a a wet front moving in from the west meeting up with a cold front coming down from the north, Merrell said.

Pitt County Schools released students two-hours early today. All school-related activities set for this afternoon also have been canceled. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Pitt County also are closed.

The school district will monitor the weather and decide later in the day what to do about Tuesday’s schools schedule, spokesman Brock Letchworth said. Tonight’s Board of Education meeting scheduled for 6:30 has been rescheduled for Monday, March 17, at 6:30 p.m. The rescheduled meeting will be held in the commissioners auditorium.

No cancellations or changes have been made to Greenville activities or events, a city official said. All divisions withing city government, including Public Works and Traffic, are carefully monitoring weather and road conditions in the city and will announce any changes as the day progresses, the official said.

The weather threat also prompted organizers of a Take Back the Night event, which was scheduled to be held tonight at East Carolina University, to reschedule for April.

The event, called Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, is sponsored by ECU’s chapter of Gamma Sigma Sigma, the campus’ Office of Victim’s Services and the Greenville Police Department.

Walk a Mile will be held 6 p.m. April 7 at the top of College Hill with a goal of eliminating sexual violence and educating other victims about the resources at the university and in the community.

N.C. Department of Transportation crews will monitor changes in the weather through the day and be ready to spread rock salt, first in established problem areas such as bridges and overpasses, and along primary routes throughout Pitt County, deaprtment spokesman Jeremy Stroud said.

“We have all the salt we need, more than 500 tons of it, but from about noon until 4 p.m., we’re expecting rain, so we won’t drop any brine solution then because it will wash away,” Stroud said. “Once the rain turns to ice, we’ll send trucks loaded with rock salt to high traffic areas.”

Crews then will monitor the roads to see where ice or other wintry mix accumulates, then treat those areas with salt, the official said.

The State Emergency Response Team (SERT) is prepring for the winter mix of snow, sleet and ice expected to impact central and eastern North Carolina during the next 24 hours, according to a news release issued this afternoon by Gov. Pat McCrory’s office.

“North Carolina is facing its fourth winter storm this year,” McCrory said. “While each storm is different, the safety requirements are much the same: watch your local weather forecast, use extreme caution if you must drive in hazardous conditions and play it safe.”

Between late Monday morning and mid-day Tuesday, the Triangle and Triad areas could see a mixture of snow and sleet with a trace of ice. Northern counties along the Virginia border could see between one and three inches of snow with additional minor amounts of sleet or ice. Fayetteville, the Sandhills area and coastal counties could see up to a half-inch of sleet with traces of ice.

Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry encouraged drivers to reduce speed, leave plenty of room between vehicles when following, approach bridges and overpasses with extreme caution and avoid braking on bridges.

Motorists are reminded to use the free ReadyNC mobile app for traffic or weather conditions or to call 511 for the latest road conditions. Traffic conditions can also be found on http://www.ncdot.gov/.  Reserve calling 911 or the State Highway Patrol Communication Centers for emergency calls only.

Perry said the forecasted amounts of precipitation combined with below-freezing temperatures means that the storm’s effects likely will be felt through Tuesday morning, but the good news is warmer temperatures are expected to return later in the week.

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