LAURINBURG — As sheets of snow blanketed Scotland County from Wednesday afternoon through much of the night, authorites are asking residents to enjoy the winter storm without venturing too far from home.
Scotland County could get at least four inches before the snow tapers off, according to the National Weather Service.
By 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, most local roadways had collected a heavy dusting of snow and the unfamiliar conditions were the cause of several reported accidents, although most minor.
Ralph Kersey Sheriff urged drivers to stay off the roads until further notice.
“The roadways are treacherous and impassable in Scotland County,” Kersey said. “Numerous accident and calls. If you are home please stay at that location.”
Thursday should be sunny, with a high near 36. But road conditions could remain treacherous as the low Thursday night will be around 13. Friday will be much the same with a high of 34 and the low returning to around 13.
Gov. Roy Cooper says state officials are treating the quick-moving storm seriously because of its expected combination of freezing rain, snow and high winds, followed by continued frigid temperatures.
Cooper said that he’s worried about people who could lose power during the storm and their ability to heat their homes. Since temperatures are expected to remain at or below freezing for the next several days, Cooper says it may be more difficult for first responders and transportation crews to work.
In anticipation of the inclement weather, Scotland County Schools sent students home early on Wednesday. All schools will be closed Thursday.
Richmond Community College also cancelled classes. At The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, campus operations are suspended from 5 p.m. Wednesday until 11 a.m. Thursday.
The payment deadline for student UNCP accounts has been extended to 5 p.m., Thursday in light of the forecasted weather event.
“We will continue to monitor conditions and provide additional updates if warranted,” school officials said.
Scotland Health Care System has canceled surgeries and elective procedures for Thursday.
“As always, Scotland Memorial Hospital and the Emergency Center’s doors will be open day-and-night,” said spokesman Stephanie Tatum. “Patient, visitor and staff safety is our top priority.”
The Scotland County Courts and Clerk’s Office will also be closed on Thursday. The public may call 910-266-4404 for updates.
Other announced closings on Thursday include all Scotland County government offices; Laurinburg city offices; and Maxton’s Town Hall, Public Works and the Water Department.
Laurinburg’s Sanitation Department will not collect any solid waste routes on Thursday. The routes will be delayed until Friday, assuming conditions improve and collection trucks can be sent out safely at that time, according to City Manager Charles Nichols.
“We will continue to monitor road conditions and post any additional schedule changes as soon as possible,” Nichols said. “Thank you for your patience and understanding.”
The Laurinburg Exchange published Thursday’s edition of the newspaper about eight hours early to keep its employees, including those who deliver the paper, off of dangerous roads.
With the storm, a higher than normal power demand is anticipated because customers will be trying to keep warm. Customers can reduce the strain by setting their thermostats to 68 degrees. Lowering the thermostat also will reduce customers’ bills.
Customers who experience an outage during the storm should call the automated outage-reporting systems for their respective utility. Duke Energy Carolinas customers can call 1-800-769-3766. Progress Energy Carolinas customers can call 1-800-419-6356. LREMC customers who experience an outage should call 800-683-5571.
Customers may also report an outage, view current outages and receive Estimated Times of Restoration online at www.duke-energy.com/storms