Anson ‘dodges a bullet’ with winter storm

Imari Scarbrough

January 29, 2014

Anson County “dodged the bullet” with its lower-than-predicted amounts of snow, emergency services director and fire marshal Rodney Diggs said at noon on Wednesday. Tuesday’s snowstorm covered Anson in a blanket of about two and a half to three inches of snow, but local authorities report a pleasantly “remarkable” lack of accidents.

Most municipality authorities could not be reached, but Diggs said only 11 accidents in the county had been reported to the 911 center between 7 p.m. Tuesday and 5 a.m. Wednesday. Only one motorist had minor injuries and was transported to the hospital while all other accidents were limited to property damage only. Diggs said the accidents were not concentrated in any one particular area of the county.

By noon on Wednesday, Wadesboro authorities had responded to only two accidents in the last 24 hours, saying that letting the schools out early was a good decision that helped reduce the amount of accidents.

Lilesville reported an incident-free day. “I was surprised that no accidents are reported currently,” Lilesville Police Chief Bobby Gallimore said. “The roads are in pretty good condition but are still spotty. They’ll freeze over tonight, though the secondary roads are worse than the primary ones. Stay home if you can, but if you have to get out, take it easy. Since the roads are spotty, if you get a lot of vehicles on the road you’ll increase the chance of an accident.”

Gallimore said that DOT will maintain most of the roadways while the public works department will work on the secondary roads.

Polkton town clerk and finance officer Ashley Jones said that main roads such as N.C. Highway 218 were clear as of noon, but that “the side roads are another story” altogether, with some covered in ice. She reported at least one accident with a car in a ditch near SPCC, which Diggs confirmed.

Diggs said that there were a number of factors that contributed to the low incident reports. “We didn’t get the snow they were originally calling for, and it started later than they anticipated,” he said. “They called for it to start at 12 p.m., and nothing started until a light sleet at 5 p.m. Accumulation didn’t start until 7 p.m., and we got an average of two and a half inches around the county. Most people were at home or almost home when it started and didn’t come back out.”

Diggs also said the lack of moisture in the air caused the relatively small amount of snowfall. “We dodged a big bullet this time,” he said. “Dry air moved in before the low pressure did and that kept a bunch of the snow from making it to the ground. There wasn’t enough moisture in the air to make it to the ground, so that helped us to not get enough snow.”

A proper response ahead of the storm also helped, he said. “DOT did a good job putting salt on the roads before hand with the brine solution and had crews working through the night clearing the roads,” he said. “The schools let out early, so they were ahead of the game. And since it didn’t start accumulating until 7 p.m., most people stayed home and weren’t traveling when it was dangerous.”

Although DOT and municipalities are working to clear the roads, motorists should still stay home if they can, according to Diggs. “Right now, major highways are clear and state roads are about clear,” he said at about noon. “Secondary roads have icy spots. Tonight, what’s melted will refreeze quickly after sunset. We urge people that don’t have to travel to not travel until absolutely necessary. If they can wait until tomorrow, that would be better. We’ll have the same problem tomorrow night, with what’s left refreezing.”

Diggs stressed that the roads will be particularly dangerous from when the temperature starts dropping at sunset until later in the morning the next day for both tonight and Thursday night. “There will be black ice in the morning and it will not be safe to travel.”