Forecast calls for warm-up

Jan. 30, 2014 @ 04:59 PM

People living on country roads likely have been wondering when their streets will be cleared of snow and ice by the yellow vehicles servicing other roads around town.

But the N.C. Department of Transportation has a message for folks fretting about delays: Don’t take it personally.

“Crews follow a pre-established order when removing snow and ice,” the DOT said in a press release. “They begin with interstate and four-lane divided primary routes, as well as some primary and secondary routes considered essential to the movement of intrastate traffic. ... Next, crews clear U.S. and N.C. routes and paved secondary routes not already addressed. Then, they handle unpaved secondary routes.”

Although highways and other main roads were generally not hazardous on Thursday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Raleigh warned a number of counties — including Lee, Chatham, Moore and Harnett — that this morning will bring patches of ice once more.

“What melting occurs this afternoon will refreeze this evening, resulting in patches of black ice, mainly on secondary and shaded roadways,” the statement said. The weekend is expected to be warmer, with highs in the 50s and 60s today and into the weekend.

The DOT has hundreds of vehicles out and about, trying to improve road conditions statewide. And just in the local Sandhills region — which is comprised of Chatham, Lee, Moore, Hoke, Montgomery, Randolph, Richmond and Scotland counties — transportation workers had put down several million pounds of salt on the roads.

And while major streets and highways have become passable, some roads further out in the country are still potentially dangerous. The DOT said that people who want to check on the status of a road or driving conditions in general shouldn’t call 911 or the Highway Patrol; instead, call 511, visit or check the @NCDOT Twitter account, where officials have been posting general updates, as well as responding to specific questions.

Area residents are also asking about make-up days for schools due to weather-related closures — three days this week for public schools in Lee, Harnett and Moore counties, and two days for Chatham County Schools. By Thursday afternoon, none of the four districts had announced whether school would be canceled today.

Three of the four school districts also hadn’t made decisions on makeup days. Harnett County had originally planned to hold one makeup day this Saturday but changed that decision after a backlash from parents on social media.

Now, Harnett County Schools has announced three makeup days scattered throughout the rest of the semester: Feb. 17, a Monday that students would have had off for President’s Day; March 28, which had been a teacher workday; and April 21, which is the Monday after Easter and had also been planned as a teacher workday.

But with few teacher workdays left in the year, officials wrote on the Harnett district website that Saturday school could be possible if more classes are canceled “in an effort to preserve the Spring Break dates for our students, staff members and their families.”

Dozens of people commented on a district Facebook post telling people about the makeup days, with some criticizing the decision and others supporting it. One supporter wrote: “My child is driving me crazy, but I’m glad he is safe, and if Saturday school is required, he will go. I won’t be happy, but I will get over it, and the main reason is I am glad I’m not the one who is responsible for making these decisions.”