NWS forecasts unprecedented winter storm for Carteret County

Colored areas on a map from the National Weather Service show where NWS meteorologists forecast the effects of an incoming winter storm to occur late Thursday into early Saturday. (NWS graphic)

Editor's note: This article, headline and photo were updated at 6:45 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022 to include the latest forecast.

NEWPORT — Local National Weather Service meteorologists are still calling for a severe winter storm late Thursday into early Saturday, bringing up to  half an inch of ice for a large part of Carteret County.

The NWS Newport weather forecasting office held a webinar at 4:30 p.m. Thursday to provide the latest forecast information on the incoming winter storm. NWS meteorologist Erik Heden hosted the webinar, and said while the weather was mild at the time in Carteret County, major changes were expected by 5 a.m. Friday.

“There’s still some question marks,” Mr. Heden said, “But if the forecast holds, this will be something we’ve never seen in our area.”

The NWS forecast calls for rain Thursday night, turning into freezing rain by 8 a.m. Friday. Ice accumulation is forecast to begin in west Carteret County, spreading eastward throughout Friday.

“Temperatures will be below freezing in a lot of these areas tomorrow,” Mr. Heden said. “The heaviest precipitation is expected tomorrow (Friday) night.”

The NWS forecasts freezing rain to continue until about 7 a.m. Saturday, followed by a chance of light snow. While some melting may occur during the day Saturday and Sunday, low temperatures Saturday and Sunday nights may result in re-freezing and black ice forming on roads and streets.

Ice accumulation amounts remain about the same as the Thursday morning forecast, between .01-.5 inches, with larger amounts in western Carteret County, including Morehead City. Combined with forecast gusting winds, the storm may result in downed trees and scattered power outages.

State officials have been preparing to respond to the storm’s forecast effects. N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper held a briefing online Thursday afternoon, shortly before the NWS briefing.

“Public health and safety has been and always will be our No. 1 priority,” Gov. Cooper said, in response to a question about both state official’s response to the incoming winter storm and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on emergency response staffing. N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette said during the briefing while pandemic-related staffing shortages may affect response times, state personnel will respond as quickly as possible to affected areas.

“We have a great relationship with our contract partners,” Mr. Boyette said. “We’ve reached out to them more than we previously would.”

The NWS Newport provides forecasts, watches, warnings and other weather information online at its website www.weather.gov/mhx/. It also provides information on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NWSMoreheadCity, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity and on YouTube at www.youtube.com/user/NWSMoreheadCity.

(previous report)

NEWPORT — Carteret County residents should prepare for a severe ice storm Thursday night through Saturday morning.

The National Weather Service Newport weather forecasting office issued its latest winter storm briefing Thursday morning. Local NWS meteorologists have upgraded an existing winter storm watch to a winter weather advisory for eastern Carteret County and an ice storm warning for western Carteret County.

Also, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper issued Wednesday a state of emergency for North Carolina for the forecast winter storm.

NWS Newport office meteorologist Erik Heden hosted a webinar Thursday morning, the third on the forecast winter storm. A full recording of the webinar is available on YouTube at the website www.youtu.be/GiJ54zefJ70.

Mr. Heden said ice accumulations across Carteret County will range from .01-.5 inches Thursday night through Friday night, which may lead to power outages and life-threatening road conditions.

“Folks could be without power for a few days,” Mr. Heden said. “Driving will be extremely dangerous to impossible.”

According to Mr. Heden, precipitation is forecast to begin sometime between 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. Friday in Carteret County. The heaviest amounts of ice accumulation are forecast in the western part of the county, up to and including Morehead City.

East of Morehead City, ice accumulation is still possible, though Mr. Heden said weather conditions “will vary by just a few miles.”

Mr. Heden also seemed to say temperatures from late Thursday through Sunday are likely to fluctuate, especial between day and night.

“We’re in the 60s down on the coast (Thursday),” he said. “It may take a while, but temperatures will get down into the 20s for highs.”

According to the NWS Newport office website weather.gov/mhx/, temperatures in Carteret County are expected to begin dropping after 3 p.m. Thursday from a high of 61 degrees to a high of 32 degrees by 6 a.m. Friday. High temperatures are forecast to stay in the 30s Friday through Saturday, dipping into the 20s between midnight and 6 a.m. Sunday.

High temperatures are forecast to rise into the low 40s by noon Sunday, then drop back into the 30s Sunday night.

Meanwhile, wind gusts are forecast to begin around 6 p.m. Thursday at 15 mph, increasing to gusts up to 26 mph by noon Friday. Gusty winds are forecast to die off between 3 p.m.–6 p.m. Saturday.

Mr. Heden said while the winds forecast aren’t especially strong for Carteret County, when combined with the expected ice accumulation, this may lead to downed trees and power outages. He also said the fluctuating temperatures can result in refreezing, creating black ice on roads and streets.

In anticipation of the winter storm’s effects, Gov. Cooper signed a state of emergency Wednesday, waiving certain transportation regulations to allow for quicker storm preparation, response and power restoration.

“North Carolinians should prepare today for this storm and make sure they have any medications, food and emergency equipment they may need over the next few days,” the governor said in a Wednesday press release.

To prepare for this storm and possible power outages, N.C. Emergency Management officials offer the following advice:

·     Get the groceries and essentials you need before Thursday evening. Travel will become hazardous in many parts of eastern North Carolina after that.

·     Keep cellphones, mobile devices and spare batteries charged in case your power goes out.

·     Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.

·     Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.

·     Properly vent kerosene heaters and ensure generators are operated outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.

·     Never burn charcoal indoors or use a gas grill indoors.

·     Use a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or a weather alert app on your phone to receive emergency weather alerts.

·     Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first-aid kit and road map.

·     Gather emergency supplies for your pet including leash and feeding supplies, enough food and water for several days and pet travel carrier.

·     Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time during freezing weather.

Winter weather preparation information and information on power outages is available online at the website www.readync.gov. Information on travel conditions is available online at the website www.drivenc.gov.


Contact Mike Shutak at 252-723-7353, email mike@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter at @mikesccnt.

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