ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) -- Governor Roy Cooper is urging North Carolinians to watch the forecast closely and prepare their homes and families for winter weather arriving this weekend, as the state gets ready for the first major winter storm of the season.
“The forecast is still evolving, but we know that parts of the state are facing the potential for several inches of snow, and other forms of winter precipitation will also be a threat,” said Governor Cooper. “Everyone needs to be ready for cold temperatures, hazardous driving conditions and the possibility of power outages.”
The greatest winter weather impacts are expected across the Mountains and Foothills - along and north of Interstate 40 - where snow is expected to be the most dominant type of precipitation, although periods of sleet and freezing rain are also likely. Precipitation types across central North Carolina will be dependent on the track and timing of the storm. The best chances for wintry precipitation in Central North Carolina are along and north of the U.S. 1 corridor and in the northwest Piedmont.
Areas along and east of the Interstate 95 corridor will likely see rain as the main precipitation type, but it is still too soon to rule out a period of wintry weather across the Coastal Plains. Eastern North Carolina could see minor flooding from heavy rain, gusty winds along the coast, some beach erosion, and coastal flooding.
Officials from North Carolina Emergency Management are monitoring the weather closely and planning to activate the State Emergency Operations Center on Sunday, with representatives from state government agencies and response partners in place and prepared to coordinate winter storm response. The State Highway Patrol is also preparing its troopers, and encouraging motorists to limit travel in areas where driving conditions become hazardous. Troopers will be patrolling to assist motorists and ensure highway safety.
With snow having fallen earlier this week in northwestern North Carolina, state Department of Transportation crews have been plowing major highways, and have put down more than 800 tons of salt and sand to help clear roadways. A salt-water brine mixture can be used to help keep ice and snow from sticking to interstates and other key highways and bridges.
NCDOT staff in other areas of the state are monitoring forecasts to make decisions on brining roadways and positioning snow-removal equipment so it can be ready before this weekend’s storm arrives. For instance, NCDOT crews in far western counties started Thursday moving heavy equipment, including motor graders, to help support operations on Interstate 26.
State transportation crews are also keeping tabs on forecasts to determine staffing needs so round-the-clock operations can begin before the weekend and continue until roads are cleared.
Residents should monitor changing weather conditions by listening to local media and paying close attention to winter weather warnings. Remember, a Winter Storm Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for either heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain within the next 48 hours, while a Winter Storm Warning is issued when at least 3 inches of snow and/or ice accumulations of 1/4-inch or more are likely within the next 24 hours. A Winter Weather Advisory is issued when 1-to-3 inches of snow or ice accumulations of less than 1/4-inch are expected within the next 24 hours, causing travel difficulties
To help ensure you are ready for winter weather, North Carolina Emergency Management officials urge you to:
If you must travel during bad weather, emergency officials remind motorists to leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles and if driving on snow- or ice-covered roadways, reduce your speed. If conditions worsen, pull off the highway and remain in your vehicle. Do not set out on foot unless you can see a building close by where you can take shelter.
For more information on how to prepare for winter storms, check the ReadyNC app or visit readync.org.