Ice storm total

Ice totals ranging from one-quarter to one-half inch are possible across Avery County and the High Country beginning in the early morning hours of Thursday, Feb. 18.

GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG — The National Weather Service in Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C., has issued a winter storm warning from 7 p.m. Feb. 17 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 18.

According to NWS, the precipitation may start as a mix of snow and sleet tonight and change over to freezing rain for most locations by Thursday. Colder air could change the precipitation back to a mix of snow and sleet Thursday night.

Heavy mixed precipitation expected, according to NWS. Total snow accumulations of up to one inch and ice accumulations of one tenth to four tenths of an inch are expected in the warning area.

NWS advises that power outages and tree damage are likely due to the ice, and that travel could be nearly impossible, noting that hazardous conditions could impact the morning commute.

Avery County Schools altered its schedule to a remote learning day for Thursday, Feb. 18, in anticipation of the inclement weather.

Gov. Roy Cooper is declaring a state of emergency to allow for transportation waivers permitting utility companies to bring repair crews from out of state and get faster access to communities who have lost power. The governor also authorized the activation of 40 National Guard personnel to support fallen tree and debris removal.

“This forecast for icy weather is a real threat for widespread power outages,” Cooper said. "People need to be ready to stay home and be prepared to lose power for a while, especially in the northern, western and Piedmont counties."

Blue Ridge Energy — the company that serves roughly 76,000 members in Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, and parts of Wilkes, Avery and Alexander counties — said it is prepared and ready to respond should the severe weather predicted tonight and Thursday lead to power outages in the cooperative’s service area. 

"Current predictions are for significant icing to occur in the cooperative’s service area," the cooperative said in a press release. "Ice accumulation above 1/4 inch could pose problems for power lines and lead to power outages. Blue Ridge Energy line technicians and all staff are on high alert to respond to potential outages overnight and Thursday."

The cooperative recommends having the following on hand to stay safe and comfortable in the event of outages:

  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • NOAA Weather Radio or sign up for notifications from emergency and weather services on your smartphone or table
  • Keep cell phones charged and have fully charged battery backups
  • Extra water for drinking and cooking
  • Nonperishable food items
  • First aid kit, including prescription medications

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