The National Weather Service announced a winter storm watch for areas in the Catawba Valley beginning Wednesday evening due to forecasted freezing rain.
Scotty Powell, meteorologist with Carolina Weather Group, said the precipitation will begin late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. “It will start right after midnight, and it could start out as sleet; you may even see a few snowflakes,” he said. “But it will turn to freezing rain.”
Folks should see elevated surfaces gather ice first, including trees, power lines and bridges. “Once we move into Thursday morning, roadways will start freezing as well,” Powell added. “We’ve been flirting with this all winter; it’s finally going to be cold enough to have an impact.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, anticipated ice accumulation totals ranged from two tenths of an inch to a half inch of ice in areas of the Catawba Valley. “Anything above a quarter of an inch of ice is concerning — this is where you’ll see downed trees and power issues,” Powell explained.
Powell said freezing rain is not a weather event to take lightly. “Now is the time to prepare,” he said. “It’s been wet this week already — when you add ice to saturated soils, you’ll see more downed trees and power lines.”
He added that power restoration times could be longer during this weather event as well. “This is going to be a pretty impactful ice event for the entire state,” he said. “A lot of populated areas could lose power; and there are only so many (linemen) crews available.”
To prepare, Powell suggested folks stock up on nonperishable food items, alternate ways to keep warm, and other items such as batteries, flashlights, and charging cell phones.
“Be sure you have ways to stay warm, whether that’s making sure you have wood for a fire, a kerosene heater, extra blankets and other alternative heating methods. And make sure you have a way to have a meal,” he said. “A handheld can opener is something a lot of people don’t have anymore, but you may need it if you can’t use an electric one.”
Emily Willis is a general assignment and education reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.