The winter storm delivered 10 to 14½ inches of snow to Forsyth County Sunday and Monday, causing power outages and vehicle crashes on snow- and ice-covered roads. Heavy snow also collapsed the roof of a building at the site of the historic Nissen Wagon Works in southern Winston-Salem. Officials cautioned that today’s commute could be treacherous as plunging temperatures turn melted snow into ice on roads. The storm was blamed for at least three deaths in North Carolina, including one in Yadkin County.
While Winston-Salem received about 11 inches of snow, the city didn’t tie or surpass its record of 18 inches of snowfall recorded on Dec. 17, 1930, said Kathleen Carroll, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. An area two miles south of Winston-Salem received 14½ inches of snow, the weather service said. Clemmons got 12 inches of snow, Kernersville got 11.5 inches and an area a mile northwest of Lewisville received 13 inches of snow. In Northwest North Carolina, an area three miles southeast of the Fleetwood community in Ashe County received 25 inches of snow, the weather service said. An area three miles east of Boone in Watauga County got 19 inches of snow. Heavy snow collapsed a roof Monday at the vacant Nissen Wagon Works building at 1539 Waughtown St., said Battalion Chief Ricky McCutchen of the Winston-Salem Fire Department. No injuries were reported.
John Nissen began the Nissen Wagon Works in 1834, according to the building’s N.C. Highway Historic Marker. The building at 1539 Waughtown St. was built in 1919, and 50 wagons were produced daily there, according to the marker. Gov. Roy Cooper reminded state residents Monday that North Carolina remains under a state of emergency. “North Carolina has gotten through the worst of the storm, but we need to stay vigilant,” Cooper said. “Unfortunately, the snow has turned into a nightmare and a tragedy for some, claiming three lives. We mourn them and offer our deepest sympathies to their loved ones.”
A truck driver died Sunday after suffering what appeared to be a heart attack from shoveling out his tractor-trailer that got stuck at the height of the storm along Interstate 77 in Yadkin County, said Keith Vestal, Yadkin County’s emergency services director. The state emergency operations center also said that a man died Sunday when a tree fell on his vehicle in Mecklenburg County, while an ailing woman died in Haywood County when her oxygen was cut off due to power outages. The N.C. Highway Patrol reported that its troopers handled 620 calls for service and 175 vehicle crashes since Sunday, said Master Trooper Ned Moultrie, an agency spokesman. Moultrie also urged motorists to stay off roads and highways, which will be icy when temperatures drop below freezing at night. City officials urged residents to stay off the roads and to be patient as they work to clear streets of snow and ice.
“We’re still focused on the primary streets,” said Randy Britton, senior community educator with the city of Winston-Salem. “The main roads are being cleared, but the neighborhoods are in very poor condition. There’s a lot of snow out there.” City road crews began Monday plowing the secondary streets that lead from neighborhoods to primary roads. “There are bad streets all over this city, there’s no section that got spared,” Britton said. “What makes it all the more challenging is that Business 40 is closed.” He said the city’s No. 1 focus is ensuring that hospitals, fire stations, police departments, EMS stations and other emergency services are clear and able to function. If any of those agencies have a call and need roads cleared to respond to them, the city assists with that, as well.
Since the city began preparing the roads for the snowfall on Thursday through Monday morning, 525 tons of salt have been used, Britton said. A lot of that salt has been used to make 47,000 gallons of brine, as well. He’s unsure how the city will proceed on today. The temperature is expected to rise to 39 degrees today but will drop back into the low 20s tonight, refreezing what melts today. “There will be a new set of challenges tomorrow,” Britton said. “That 14 inches of snow will have to melt and go somewhere.”
He urges residents to stay inside, despite the headway the city is making on the roads. “If you don’t need to go out, please don’t. Allow us to do our jobs,” Britton said. “People are getting stuck because 14 inches is not something the average sedan is built to (drive) in.” Early Monday morning, most people had heeded that advice, but as the day progressed, a few more cars were driving around. Highway Patrol Sgt. J.W. Baity said Forsyth County had been lucky in that there had been few wrecks, but there were several stranded cars.
“My only suggestion is everybody stay home,” Baity said. During the storm’s peak Sunday, there were more than 252,000 power outages across the state, the governor’s office said. Power crews reduced that number to 120,000 by midday Monday. In the Triad and Northwest North Carolina, Duke Energy Corp. reported that 17,970 of its customers had lost power by 12:15 p.m. Monday. There were 2,282 outages in Forsyth County, 9,858 in Guilford County, 2,724 in Wilkes County and 1,972 in Stokes County, according to the company’s website site.
“The storm has challenged our customers in so many parts of their lives,” said Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s storm director. “Our crews are working tirelessly to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.” Forsyth, Davidson, Guilford and Randolph counties remain under a winter weather advisory until 9 a.m. today, the weather service said. Melting snow will cause icy spots on roads and highways. Tuesday’s forecast in Winston-Salem, Mount Airy and Boone calls for high temperatures ranging from 36 to 44 degrees amid sunny skies. It will be clear tonight in Forsyth, Surry and Watauga counties with low temperatures around 19 degrees.