Snow, ice shut down Union County
Snow began falling Tuesday as an historic winter storm blanketed Union County and other parts of North Carolina.
By Wednesday afternoon, multiple tractor trailers were reported to have gotten stuck along Highway 74 and to be having problems around Highway 601 near Hilltop in Monroe. Minor collisions were also reported throughout the day.
No serious injuries had been reported as of Wednesday morning and afternoon but law enforcement, electrical companies and others were prepared to help where needed.
“We are urging people to stay off the road,” Bryan Gilliard, interim police chief of the Monroe Police Department, said.
Police worked to aid the tractor trailer drivers on Highway 74 Wednesday morning. As the day moved on, minor collisions continued to be reported and reports began coming in in relation to problems around Highway 601 South at Hilltop in Monroe. In that area, there were reports of roads being blocked and of tractor trailers having trouble getting up the hill. Though officers were able to help traffic move in the area, by about 3:15 p.m. Wednesday, they had been out there working around four or five hours. There were also problems reported on Highway 74 around that time, which crews from the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) were working to address, Gilliard said.
Members of the Monroe Fire Department were also out Wednesday helping with the various transportation problems caused by the weather.
“Our biggest challenges today have been traffic issues with traffic backups and traffic jams because of road conditions,” Chief Ron Fowler of the Monroe Fire Department, said.
By Wednesday afternoon, there had been several reports of minor accidents and vehicles running off the roadways but no serious injuries were reported in the city, he said.
“The biggest challenges we’ve had so far on the roads has been that on (Highway) 74 at Hilltop and Highway 601 South below where it comes into Highway 74,” he said.
Those two roads as well as Highway 74 West coming into Monroe, were both completely blocked at one time Wednesday due to the fact that there is a hill coming up into the Hilltop area and vehicles were having trouble getting up the hill and there were also some tractor trailers stranded. The fire and police departments along with City of Monroe and NCDOT crews were all working together Wednesday to address the various traffic related issues. As of about 4 p.m. Wednesday, there had not been any power outages or fallen trees reported in Monroe and so far he had not seen any freezing rain in the area but he and others planned to continue monitoring weather conditions throughout the day, Fowler said.
Members of the Union County Sheriff’s Office were also out Wednesday responding to different collisions.
“Just the typical property damage and people sliding into each other,” Captain Ronnie Whitaker of the Union County Sheriff’s Office said in reference to some of the reports deputies responded to.
Along with having officers out responding to accidents, members of the Sheriff’s Office were also out helping assist other law enforcement as well as any motorists who happened to become stranded or were in need of assistance, Whitaker said.
From three to six inches of snow was expected to fall Wednesday, which was expected to be followed by freezing rain. The snow and ice was predicted to stick around Thursday, which is expected to have a high of 38 degrees. Friday is expected to have a high of 49 degrees, which should help melt the snow and ice, Alan Reppert, a meteorologist with Accuweather.com, said.
As a result of the winter weather, many facilities, schools and organizations closed Wednesday.
Wingate University cancelled classes for the day though the main campus dining hall and Office of Residence Life continued to operate on normal hours. Union County offices, Union County Public Schools and Monroe offices were also closed.
According to a statement from Governor Pat McCrory’s Office Wednesday, McCrory as well as state public safety and transportation officials, urged people throughout the state to prepare themselves for potential power outages and hazardous road conditions for the next few days.
“It is going to be a tough 48 hours. Heavy snow, ice and gusty winds are predicted across the state today and tomorrow, which could bring downed trees and power lines and create hazardous travel conditions. In case of power outages, I urge all North Carolinians to be prepared with safe, alternative heating sources; to dress in warm, loose-fitting layers of clothing; and to use flashlights, instead of candles for safety purposes,” McCrory said in the statement.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no power outages or concerns reported to Union Power but crews were ready and prepared to address any weather related issues if needed, Carrie Cameron Stroud, a spokesperson for Union Power, said.
Union County, NC contacts for power outages and other issues:
Union Power: 1-800-794-4423
Duke Energy: English-1-800-POWERON (1-800-769-3766), Spanish- 1-866-4APAGON (1-866-427-2466.
Pee Dee EMC- 1-800-693-0190
Contacts for transportation and road concerns:
North Carolina Highway Patrol: *HP (*47)
North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT): www.ncdot.gov/travel or www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter