Snowfall less than expected in most areas


There have been a few minor wrecks this morning, such as this one Nolan Avenue and Tram Road in Whiteville. No one has been injured.

Fans of snow were somewhat disappointed in the central part of Columbus County this morning, as an unusual “hole” of dry air kept much of the area from major snowfall.
The fast-moving winter storm dumped from a quarter inch or dusting to three inches across the county, with higher amounts to the west and east, according to the National Weather Service. A large pocket of dry air that required moisture before it could prduce much snow lingered over Whiteville and other areas until around midnight, lessening snowfall.
Earlier in the day, sleet, freezing rain and sleet glazed the eastern end of the county, while Lake Waccamaw developed a wide sheet of ice around the shoreline, stretching 10 to 20 feet offshore and drawing residents to the dam like tourists.
Local meteorologist Chris Cawley said that the “dry hole” was a surprise to forecasters everywhere.
“The drier air just didn’t model well,” he said. “It didn’t pick up well on the early forecasts. It’s just one of those things we really can’t predict.”
At 8 p.m., icy precipitation was occurring in some of Whiteville, while Chadbourn, Southeastern Community College, Evergreen and Tabor City had light dustings if anything. By 11:30 p.m., cars were covered in snow west of Whiteville, and roads were blanketed. More than an inch was on the ground at Lake Waccamaw, while Hallsboro and Nakina reported patchy snow and sleet.
By midnight, three people had taken advantage of a shelter opened by the county at Edgewood Elementary School in Whiteville. County Emergency Management Director Kay Worley did not return telephone calls or text messages asking for updates.
City Fire Marshal Hal Lowder said the Department of Transportation did a “great job” working the main roads in Whiteville. A brine layer was sprayed on major thoroughfares before the storm, but at midnight, the snow covered roads from shoulder to shoulder around the city.
Common sense played a big role too, Lowder said.
“We didn’t have a lot of people out and about,” he said. “The wheels didn’t turn on the fire trucks all night, and as far as I know, there were only routine police calls.”
The possibility of icing today and tonight led most government offices to remain closed today (Thursday). The city, county, and Lake Waccamaw town offices are expected to reopen tomorrow, based on conditions. Schools were closed in the city and county today as well, and most area churches cancelled Wednesday night activities.
There were no major fires or wrecks due to the light snowfall. There was one minor injury in a wreck on Pine Log Road last night, and a minor fire at an apartment building on Franklin Street. There was little activity at the 911 center this morning.
The main problems are mostly due to the cold, such as frozen pipes, water pumps and car batteries. Cold weather, with temperatures dipping down into the teens at night, is expected through Saturday.