Snow expected to pile up as freezing rain moves in

Staff report

February 12, 2014

LAURINBURG — Though Scotland County has already seen a full day of snow, meterologists are warning that this winter storm — the second to hit the area in less than a month — is far from over.

“The stuff today is kind of the pregame show to the main event,” said Ryan Ellis, meterologist with the National Weather Service, on Tuesday. “The bigger story for that area will be ice.”

Tuesday morning, as snow began to fall, Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency, and a winter storm watch orginally issued by the National Weather Service was upgraded to a winter storm warning that will be in place from 9 a.m. today until 6 p.m. Thursday.

Ellis expected that snow would taper off late Tuesday but begin again early today, dumping up to another 3 inches on the inch that had already accumulated. Late this afternoon, according to Ellis, the snow will change to sleet and then freezing rain, leaving a possible 4 inches of snow topped with up to half an inch of ice.

“We’re looking at a quarter to a half inch of ice in that area, which can do terrible things to travel and power outages,” he said.

Sleet or freezing rain could continue to fall until early Thursday, Ellis said.

Roylin Hammond, director of the county’s Emergency Services, said Tuesday they hadn’t yet received any complaints of power outages or weather-related incidents.

“Once we start getting that ice accumulation we may have an issue with fallen trees and things,” he said, adding that it’s “too premature” to tell what today would bring.

The Department of Transportation spent most of the day Monday spreading a salt mixture commonly known as brine on major county roads. At that night’s board meeting, as freezing rain had begun to fall, Scotland County school administrators decided to cancel Tuesday’s classes. A decision about today’s classes had not been made by presstime.

Tuesday afternoon, temperatures that had hovered above the freezing point for most of the day began to plummet, dropping to the high 20s. Ellis predicted temperatures would hover near the mid-20s today and tonight, with a northeast wind of about 15 mph.

As snow continued to fall, Richmond Community College closed their doors at 2 p.m. and St. Andrews University canceled classes beginning at 3:15 p.m. or later. No information as to Wednesday’s classes was available by presstime.

The city of Laurinburg’s Planning Board and City Council meetings, both set for Tuesday afternoon, were canceled. A citizen input session scheduled for tonight will be rescheduled at the council’s meeting on Feb. 18.

Scotland County courts and the clerk of court’s office closed at 2 p.m. Tuesday and will remain closed today.

Scotland Health Care System’s outpatient services, laboratory and rehabilitation services may closed early Tuesday and will remain closed today. A free cholesterol and blood pressure screening set for today at Cherokee Chapel Holiness Methodist Church in Maxton has been cancelled.

Also closed are Harris Family Practice, Scotland Urgent Care Center and Scotland Surgical in Laurinburg, Scotland Health Care Center and Marlboro Ob/Gyn in Bennettsville, Maxton Family Practice Center in Maxton, Pembroke Family Practice Center in Pembroke and Wagram Family Practice Center in Wagram.

Many downtown businesses were closed on Tuesday, though snow had yet to stick to streets and sidewalks. And at grocery stores across the county, food was flying off the shelves.

“Most people get eggs, milk — the next thing is sodas,” said Robert Easterling, a Coca-Cola merchandiser, as he restocked the shelves at Food Lion Tuesday morning. The store was almost completely emptied of canned foods, bread , eggs and coffee.

County educator Rhonda Jenkins, as she loaded her shopping cart, said she wasn’t happy about seeing more snow — or about school being closed yet again.

“I can’t belive this has happened twice in two weeks here in Laurinburg,” she said, adding that even with the missed days, students are “still expected to know the full quarter’s information.”

The Scotland County Board of Education has toyed with the idea of having Saturday make-up days, but no decision has been made.