Progress Energy Carolinas is nearly tripling its workforce in the field with line and tree crews from other states. The company is assembling a repair work force of more than 1,500 to assist in restoring power as quickly as possible after the large winter storm moves through the Carolinas tonight and Saturday.
The storm is expected to bring significant amounts of snow to much of North Carolina, and sleet and ice to a wide portion of southern and eastern North Carolina and northern South Carolina. In some areas, ice accumulations could be in excess of one-half inch. Ice accumulations of more than one-quarter inch can cause significant damage to the electric system, as ice-laden trees and limbs fall into power lines.
Progress Energy crews from Florida and contract line and tree crews from Florida, Georgia, Maryland and other states are traveling to the Carolinas today, so they can be deployed to the areas with the most significant damage Saturday. In addition to the normal complement of about 570 company and contract line personnel, the company has made arrangements to bring in 380 off-system line personnel (including crews from Progress Energy Florida), 300 tree trimmers and 300 damage assessors.
We will continue to monitor the storm around the clock. In many areas, the forecast calls for precipitation to continue throughout the day Saturday, which could hamper restoration efforts, particularly in areas with icy roads.
AFTERNOON WEATHER UPDATE
As anticipated, some further south/east shifting of the icing band has occurred in this forecast. Oddly, as we draw closer to this event...the forecast models are becoming more divergent on some of the aspects of the storm. All the data firmly depicts a major winter storm but rather important differences still exist. However, the models no longer indicate the risk for any future significant shifting of the ice band; however, some adjustments to the forecast will continue as the details of this storm system become clearer.
TONIGHT THROUGH SATURDAY
SOUTHERN REGION: Precipitation will begin a few hours before midnight as snow/sleet in Sanford and sleet/freezing rain from Rockingham eastward across Goldsboro with light rain to the south. Icing will spread southward during Saturday morning. For most of Saturday...a mix of snow and sleet will fall over Sanford, trending to a band of sleet and freezing rain from Rockingham and Hartsville northeastward across northern Florence, Fayetteville, northern/western Wilmington, Goldsboro and far western Morehead City. At least a brief change to freezing rain could occur into the southern reaches of the territory and just inland from the immediate coast. The wintry mix will taper off during the late afternoon-early evening then end by late evening. Temps falling through the 30s north and 40s south tonight then 20s north to 30s south on Sat. Winds E/NE 10-15 MPH Fri night then N/NE 10-20 GUSTS to 25 MPH on Sat.
SNOW/SLEET: 6-12” northern Sanford. 4-8” central Sanford. 2-4” sleet/snow southern Sanford and far northern parts of Fayetteville and Goldsboro. 1-2” of sleet with some snow over Rockingham into northern Hartsville. The snow will be loaded with sleet so it will be heavier but not pasty wet.
ICE: 1/4-1/2” southeast Rockingham, central and northeast Hartsville (including the city of Sumter), northwest Florence (including the city of Florence), western and northern portions of Wilmington North, southern Fayetteville, central and southern portions of Goldsboro. 1/8-1/4” central Rockingham, northwest Hartsville, central Florence, central Wilmington North, and western Morehead City.
The region mentioned in the forecast can be loosely defined as follows:
Southern Region: includes Florence, Dillon, Hartsville, and Sumter in SC and Wadesboro, Rockingham, Laurinburg, Lumberton, Southern Pines, Sanford and Asheboro in NC.