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Snowy Roads, High Winds Hinder Travel, Close Schools in the High Country; NCDOT: ‘We Were Prepared’

By Paul T. Choate

Poplar Grove Road South. Photo by Ken Ketchie

Oct. 30, 2012. Many in the High Country woke up this morning with snow-covered cars and treacherous roads as the remnants of Hurricane Sandy continue to pound the area with snow and gusty winds.

“Our main highways, I feel comfortable with now. But getting from the secondary roads to the main highway, [motorists] need to be cautious,” said Charlie Pritchett, transportation supervisor with the Watauga branch of the North Carolina Department of Transportation. “And of course when the night hours come the temperatures will drop and some of the roads could ice back.”

Pritchett said NCDOT was fully prepared for this storm, but added that the wind gave them some problems in terms or clearing roads due to snow blowing across.

The “sideways snow” was also mentioned by Ray’s Weather Center. The forecast on Ray’s Weather had both Watauga and Avery counties getting anywhere from two to 16 inches of snow throughout the duration of this storm, depending largely on elevation.

“The heaviest snow will be this morning,” warned Ray’s Weather.

Remnants of Sandy, which The Weather Channel is now calling “Superstorm Sandy,” has also resulted in all area schools closing their doors today. Additionally, AppalCART, Boone’s public transportation service, is not running at all today and even the Watauga County Courthouse operated on a two-hour delay.

The NCDOT advises motorists to use caution on the roads and follow the following safety tips:

  • Clear windows and mirrors;
  • Reduce speed and leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles;
  • Maintain a safe following distance behind brine application trucks, and plow and spreader trucks;
  • Bridges and overpasses accumulate first. Approach them with extreme caution and do not apply your brakes while on the bridge;
  • If you begin to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car;
  • If you have a cell phone, take it with you; you can contact the Highway Patrol statewide by dialing HP (*47) or the county emergency center by calling 911; and
  • Come to a complete stop or yield the right of way when approaching an intersection where traffic lights are out. Treat this scenario as a four-way stop.

Asked how hectic today was, Pritchett said, “This is a busy one, but it’s the time of year for it.”

Additional images
Photos by Ken Ketchie