Icy mess arrives early in Caldwell County

School bus slid off road but no one hurt
Jan. 25, 2013 @ 04:50 PM

At least a half-inch of sleet blanketed Caldwell County Friday, and freezing rain was expected into the evening, according to the National Weather Service.

Local roads turned into a land of trucks and SUVs, with few in passenger cars daring to venture onto the ice.

The weather service placed much of the region under a winter storm warning through 11 p.m.

The N.C. Department of Transportation had put down a layer of salt/brine solution on main roads Thursday in preparation for Friday’s fast-moving storm. Trucks were observed Friday adding straight salt to the roads to make conditions safer.

Sleet began falling in Caldwell County around dawn, but in some parts of the state farther east, rain fell first and washed the salt/brine residue off the roads before the sleet started, making road conditions worse than they were here.

The early arrival of the storm forced Caldwell County Schools to alter its plans and cancel classes, but not until after buses carrying students began arriving for a planned half-day of classes.

“We thought the bad weather initially wouldn’t come in until noon,” said Superintendent Steve Stone. “With the storm coming in a lot quicker, we didn’t want to take that chance.”

A school bus carrying five schoolchildren actually slid off a road around 9 a.m. but did not wreck. Stone said the driver was able to get back on the road and continue on the route without further incident, but it showed the conditions all drivers faced Friday. There were a few minor accidents reported by mid-afternoon, but nothing major.

Caldwell County offices also closed early Friday, as did banks and many other businesses.

Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp., the major power provider for the county, was on high alert, but by evening the utility said it had no reported outages. But that was expected to change overnight if the prediction for freezing rain held up.

BREMC offers a few tips to help customers stay safe during an outage:

• Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries handy.

• Have matches with firewood and kindling, or a grill with extra propane charcoal and lighter fluid.

• Have a radio with fresh batteries on hand.

• Have extra blankets, sleeping bags and quilts.

• Keep items such as an oil lamp with fuel, a wind-up or batter operated clock, non-perishable food, a manual can opener, paper plates and plastic utensils, bottled water, formula and extra diapers and a thermos for keeping drinks and baby formula warm.

• Keep emergency numbers handy.

If you require regular medication, keep extras on hand. If you or a family member requires oxygen, have a back-up power source and a personal emergency plan that includes family, friends or local emergency management resources.