Morning freeze an icy inconvenience

Fallen limbs kept power crews busy, but no major problems
Feb. 27, 2013 @ 07:39 AM

It fell as rain but clung on trees and power lines as ice. As usual, that's when the trouble started.

With temperatures hovering around the freezing mark Tuesday morning, rain froze, and the weight of the ice took down tree limbs and power lines, resulting in outages for 288 customers in Caldwell County of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp., the main electric utility in the county. A total of 522 customers across the region, including 156 in Watauga County, had reported power outages.

Caldwell County Schools delayed the start of class by three hours. Some buses had to be rerouted because of fallen trees blocking roads, but there were no major problems, assistant superintendent Jeff Church said.

Across the county, a total of nine calls went out for downed power lines and fallen limbs, Caldwell County Fire Marshal Robbie Wilkie said. Most of the calls were reported between 6 a.m. and noon, Wilkie said.

Lenoir Fire Capt. Sam Smith said a half dozen icy limbs brought down power lines in Lenoir by mid-morning.

"At one time, we had all four of our trucks out removing tree limbs," Smith said.

Two power poles were broken, but no property damage or injuries were reported in the city.

As temperatures climbed a bit through the day, the rain was heavy at times. By the time the rain ended in the early afternoon, the southern portions of Caldwell County had received about 1 1/2 inches of rain, and the northern portions received 1/2 inch to an inch, said Pat Tanner, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service's office in Greer, S.C.

Ground temperatures were never cold enough to cause hazardous conditions on main roadways. The N.C. Highway Patrol reported no accidents due to the weather.