WNC under winter storm warning
Forecasters are now predicting Western North Carolina could see more snow than previously thought with predictions up to 7” for parts of Swain County and other surrounding counties as a low pressure system moves across the region.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning in effect from 7 p.m. tonight (Jan. 6) for Western North Carolina, Northeast Georgia and Upstate South Carolina with accumulations from 4-7 inches and possibly more at higher elevations.
Local Yokel Weather of Cullowhee predicts light snow to begin in the afternoon hours between 2 p.m.-4 p.m. and heavy snow starting in the evening between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. with freezing temperatures lasting into Monday mid morning.
Local Yokel Weather predicts snowfall averages between 3-5 inches for most of Swain County, with higher snowfall of between 5-7 inches along the Tennessee border. The Balsam Mountain in Jackson County and areas along the South Carolina border are also anticipated to receive 5-7 inches of snow.
“With the 3-6 inches we are expecting roads are going to be extremely hazardous, and people need to prepare and try to stay at home Saturday if at all possible,” said Swain County Emergency Management Director David Breedlove.
Bitter cold temperatures are forecast to follow the snow Saturday with Weather Channel forecasting daytime high of 27 degrees and low of 8 degrees overnight.
Wind gust of 10 to 15 miles per hour are forecast with gusts up to 25 miles per hour.
The snow and high winds are anticipated to impact roads and have the potential to produce widespread power outages due to the snow on tree limbs and power lines.
“They should also be prepared for spotty power outages,” Breedlove said. “Don’t touch downed power lines, and don’t use grills or other types of cooking appliances to heat your house. Make sure you use something that is ready for unvented heating if you are going to use a supplementary heating system.”
He added if people are using portable generators to be sure they are properly connected. Breedlove also reminds area residents to call Duke Power and not 911 to report a power outage.
Swain County Schools students are still on break today (Jan 6), and are scheduled to return for the spring semester on Monday, Jan. 9.
Crews with NC Department of Transportation have already been out treating primary roads. Wes Jameson, Swain County NC DOT maintenance engineer, said last night (Jan. 5) crews treated Hwy 74 from the Jackson County line to the Nantahala Gorge and the four lane on Hwy 28 to Tsali with salt brine, a saltwater solution to helps melt the snow. The road in Nantahala Gorge is also being treated.
During the storm, DOT has a contractor that will continue to treat the main highways, and DOT crews will be treating the remaining routes.
“It’s best for us if people will stay off the roads; It keeps from packing the snow and makes it easier for us to push it off the road,” Jameson said. “If they do need to get out, they need to take their time.”
Jameson cautioned drivers that many of the secondary roads will not be cleared during the snow event as crews will focus on primary roads first. DOT crews also assist clearing routes for EMS in order to response to emergency calls.
You can see the Local Yokel Weather SNOWCAT Map and check weather updates by visiting www.localyokelweather.com.
To report a power outage to Duke Energy Carolinas, call 1-800-POWERON (777-9898). For outage alerts, visit www.duke-energy.com/outages/alerts or text REG to 57801 for text alerts.
EMS advises people to plan to be self-sufficient for up to 72 hours with water and food. Go to ReadyNC.gov to get a list of items to have for an emergency kit.