Danger turns from snow to ice

Jan. 29, 2014 @ 05:19 PM

It can be hectic trying to keep four children dry and safe when they’re playing in the snow and ice that’s blanketing much of the central Carolina region right now.

Try doing the same with four horses.

Terri Dussault was up all Tuesday night making sure her animals were warm and dry, she said, and periodically breaking the ice on their water supply — because horses are too scared to do it with their noses like cows, she said.

“We have to go down there three and four times a day,” the Lee County resident said.

And then there’s the question of whether to ride them. She said she doesn’t like her horses to be standing around lazily for too long, but she’s also concerned about riding them because of ice patches and the fact that unless their hooves are sprayed with cooking oil — yes, cooking oil — snow and debris will get stuck all over, possibly causing health risks.

But even while she was continuing to look after the horses Wednesday afternoon, Dussault had one less distraction at home: Her husband is a New Hampshire native and probably the only private citizen in Sanford with a snow plow, she said, so he was down at Carolina Trace helping dig out some snowed-in homes.

But whether someone is riding a horse or driving from Carolina Trace — or anywhere in the area — officials are warning extreme caution today.

Wednesday morning brought snow and multiple reports of minor property damage, car crashes and other issues on the roads, but today is expected to be much worse, as all that snow has likely turned to ice overnight.

“The one big concern we have is the temperature is going to really drop off tonight [Wednesday], down to nine degrees or so,” said Shane Seagroves, director of Lee County Emergency Services. “So black ice will be a factor.”

The National Weather Service in Raleigh will issue a travel advisory for this area today in the hopes that it keeps as many people off the roads as possible, said meteorologist and Senior Forecaster Brandon Locklear — because no matter how much salt is put on the roads Wednesday, it won’t be able to stop the ice.

There’s also a Winter Weather Advisory in place until noon today, but the main issue, Locklear stressed, will be treacherous driving conditions.

“The bad thing is temperatures aren’t going to be above freezing [Wednesday afternoon], and they’re going to be down well into the single digits [Wednesday night],” he said. And with the sun out and the compaction of the snow, that’s just going to become ice. So its going to be much worse [today].”

And when it gets into the single digits, as was expected Wednesday night, Locklear said maintenance workers can salt the roads if they like — but anything the salt melts will just turn right back into ice.

About three inches of snow could be seen on the ground in Sanford early Wednesday, although Locklear said no official or even unofficial reports had been filed for Sanford and the surrounding areas. But three inches seems about right, he said, adding that in Wake County, some areas got two inches while other areas got five.

No matter how much actually landed here, it likely won’t be around long. The National Weather Service has predicted a high of 48 on Friday and 59 on Saturday, with the sun shining both days. Sunday is expected to be cloudy with a high of 57, and a possibility of rain Sunday night or Monday morning.

Several weather photos appear in today’s edition of The Herald; check online at www.facebook.com/SanfordHerald to see the full collection of staff and user-submitted photos.