Beware of ice

February 13, 2014

Kevin Spradlin

RICHMOND COUNTY, 8:05 p.m. Thursday — The worst of the storm is past, but Richmond County isn’t in the clear just yet.

While emergency management officials have signaled the beginning of recovery from winter storm Pax, the wet roads that stretch throughout the county are expected to freeze over tonight as temperatures dip into the mid-20s.

The National Weather Service predicts a low tonight into Friday morning of about 24 degrees with winds between 7 and 9 mph. Friday’s forecast shows a high of 44 with a 50 percent chance of rain Friday night, with lows around 32.

On Saturday, expect a high of 48 degrees with a light wind and an overnight low of 28. A week from now, it’s supposed to be in the low 70s.

As of 8 p.m., Duke Energy Progress reported 2,388 customers in Richmond County among 15,161 — 15.7 percent — without power. Pee Dee Electric reported 428 customers still without power. Several residents said they’d been without power since early Thursday morning and, in a few cases, even longer.

“I live on Love Lane,” wrote Christy Snead Ransom, of Rockingham, on The Daily Journal’s Facebook page before lunch Thursday. “We’re still out too. No power all night.”

Doug Quick, on McDonald Avenue in Hamlet, posted that he had no power “since last night.”

Angela Locklear-Weatherford, who lives on Marks Creek Church Road, posted that she’d been without power since 3 a.m. She posted at about 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Richmond County authorities have all but proclaimed the storm as over. At 5:45 p.m., Donna Wright, director of emergency services, said that no one was at the shelter and that the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel could be seen.

Mark Gulledge, chief deputy with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, said there’s plenty of reason to worry over the next eight to 10 hours.

“There’s a major concern for black ice spots forming during the middle of the night and first thing in the morning,” Gulledge said.

He said the major thoroughfares in the county, including U.S. routes 220, 1, Business 74 and State Route 177 were in pretty good shape but “out in the rural parts of the county and in a lot of subdivisions” there’s still a high level of snow and ice on the roads.

Gulledge said the storm, which began as students reported to first-period classes around 7:45 a.m. Tuesday, required additional manpower from the sheriff’s office. A primary concern was assisting medical personnel get to and from places of work and personnel manning the emergency shelter established at Richmond Senior High School.

Gulledge said the sheriff’s office responded to roughly 200 calls for service in the past 60 hours.

While it was steady, things could have been worse, Gulledge said.

“We had learned lessons from major snowstorms and ice storms in ‘02 and 2000,” Gulledge said. “The commissioners and County Manager Rick Sago made sure we had the proper equipment to make sure we could get the job done.”

Gulledge said deputies and office personnel were in marked and unmarked vehicles throughout the county during the storm.

“We were out there the whole time,” he said, “even though you might not have seen us.”