After being blanketed by snow Wednesday, Surry County found itself bracing for the second act of a dramatic winter snowstorm Thursday afternoon.
“Areas to the east of Mount Airy also received some sleet,” said National Weather Service Meteorologist Steve Keighton. “This storm behaved pretty much the way we expected with the foothills getting mostly snow ranging anywhere from 8-10 inches with most of Mount Airy getting 10 inches.”
That total fell well short of the record for snowfall in Mount Airy, which stands at 20 inches.
Keighton said the storm band on Thursday was pivoting over Mount Airy and the surrounding area and said anywhere from 2-4 inches additionally could be expected as the storm moves up the coast. Keighton said “should be aware overnight temperatures would move into the low 20 degrees Fahrenheit with a possibility of 40-degree temperatures during the day on Friday.”
He also said a clipper system late Friday could possibly deposit another dusting of snow on the area with colder temperatures returning Friday night with conditions improving by Sunday.
“We have to get through the additional snow today and the additional dusting on Friday night before things could improve,” Keighton said. “A real concern for anyone who must travel in this is the daytime temperatures will be just high enough to cause some melting and this will freeze again overnight causing slick conditions.”
Another concern for some in the area was just getting their power back on. Duke Power said it had crews working as quickly as possible to restore power outages cause by trees falling over limbs and poles breaking. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, 1,173 customers were still without power in Surry County. Statewide, that figre was more than 31,000.
Workers would be dealing with continued difficult conditions, with a forecast of continued blowing snow Thursday night with a low of 24.
Travel has not only been a concern for motorists but rescue personnel as well, according to Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton.
Shelton explained the weather had left secondary roads in the area in “terrible shape,” with the major concern being tractor trailers and vehicles trapped on the interstate due to accidents. He said several incidents had occurred of ambulances being trapped in between these accidents.
“The National Guard has been an extreme amount of help to us in helping with this situation,” said Shelton. He said one Guard unit has helped on U.S. 52 with another unit helping clear vehicles on other main routes toward the Yadkin County line.
“The irony is the tractor trailers can make it through when the smaller vehicles are out of the way,” Shelton said. “It’s a domino effect when the small cars get stranded and add to the pileup. The important thing is for people to know if they do not have to get out, please don’t.”
Shelton said an emergency warming shelter had been set up at the American Red Cross Offices on Westlake Road in Mount Airy with four emergency shelters on standby.
This sentiment was echoed by Mount Airy Police Sergeant Travis Whitaker who said the morning hours in Mount Airy had not seen many accidents in the city limits and encouraged people to stay home in this storm.
David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.