Forecast falls short; ice still a road hazard

Jan. 26, 2013 @ 04:49 PM

The gray skies over Caldwell County lightened Saturday morning and, lo, death had not descended, though a car here and there had fallen into a ditch.

The weather again failed to follow the forecast, but unlike Friday morning, when sleet arrived hours earlier than expected and forced school officials to send buses carrying children to reverse course, the departure from the forecast Friday night was good news: Predicted freezing rain never materialized.

Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corp., the county’s primary power provider, had no reports of power outages in Caldwell County, spokeswoman Renee Whitener said.

“It seems to be warming up, and the weather just has not caused trouble for the power lines,” she said.

Forecasters had warned of the possibility of one- or two-tenths of an inch of ice accumulation. BREMCO had been ready for ice-laden tree limbs to fall on power lines, but all of the problems the utility reported were in Watauga County, where about 30 customers in Deep Gap were without power briefly Saturday morning.

The main lingering effect of Friday’s sleet was slick roads Saturday morning. Though temperatures above freezing Saturday, combined with traffic, helped clear many main roads, Keith Keen of Keen Towing and Recovery said the ice on smaller, less used roads remained a problem. He had fielded 42 calls to pull cars out of ditches from Friday morning to mid-day Saturday, and the calls were still coming in.

“I’ve been very busy. I’m still wearing the same clothes I had on last night,” he said, because he had been working so constantly that he had not had a chance to change.

“There’s a whole lot of people out just joy-riding,” he said.

He warned that with temperatures Saturday night and early this morning dropping into the low 20s, he expects to remain busy today because partially melted ice will have refrozen on the roads.

“We’re just really thankful this came on a weekend, when we don’t much tractor-trailer traffic,” he said.

The National Weather Service says the sun should come out today and help lift the high temperature into the mid-40s.