National Weather Service forecasters say Forsyth County could get 8 to 12 inches of snow over the course of a weekend winter storm, with an outside chance of getting as much as 14 inches on the ground.
The weather service said Thursday afternoon that each time meteorologists run their models, they come up with forecasts of a stronger storm.
“Travel is likely to be very difficult Sunday into Monday,” the weather service said. “Even in locations with lesser snow accumulations, the potential for accumulations of sleet and freezing rain will impact travel.”
It appears Forsyth County will be spared accumulations of ice. But parts of Davidson County will see small amounts of ice accumulation, as will areas in a band stretching as far east as Durham and northern Wake counties.
Although some precipitation is predicted for Saturday, forecasters said the biggest chances of snow should be after 1 a.m. Sunday, with snow accumulations of 2 to 4 inches possible. Snow will continue during the day on Sunday, forecasters said, with snow and sleet after 4 p.m.
In the Triad and northwest Piedmont, “snow and sleet will be the predominant (precipitation) type for most of the event, with accumulations from several inches to just under a foot not out of the question,” the weather service said. The storm could bring a mix of snow, sleet and rain along the U.S. 1 corridor farther east in North Carolina.
State workers are expanding their salt truck routes downtown as Winston-Salem braces for its first winter storm since the closing of Business 40.
Winston-Salem city workers spent the day Thursday assembling and checking equipment used to treat snow- and ice-covered streets, and telling workers to be ready to roll out in 12-hour shifts over the weekend.
“Everyone on the roster has got an assignment and does duty,” said Randy Britton, speaking for Winston-Salem’s winter-storm effort. “We tell folks you can’t have vacation when you go into snow-removal mode. That is an agreement they make when they sign on in the department.”
In an announcement almost overwhelmed by the snow news, state highway officials said snow won’t stop workers from tearing down the Business 40 bridge over Brookstown Avenue over the weekend, followed by the demolition of the Spruce Street bridge starting Monday.
Brookstown Avenue will be closed for the work starting at 7 p.m. today, with the avenue scheduled to be reopened by 6 a.m. Monday.
The Spruce Street bridge will be closed at 9 a.m. Monday, with demolition starting immediately. The bridge will not be rebuilt.
Highway officials did say that icing would stop any Business 40 work so that workers are kept safe.
John Rhyne, the maintenance engineer here for state highways, said that with the closure of Business 40, the state will be putting down brine on Cherry and Marshall streets downtown and keeping them clear — something the state usually doesn’t handle. University Parkway will also get treatment, he said.
State highway officials will also be putting out more inspectors to monitor conditions on state-maintained roads after the trucks have gone by. Motorists on their morning commute will be seeing state brine trucks making their rounds.
After working a normal shift today, state workers will mobilize again Saturday to tackle the snow and sleet forecasters are expecting.
“We have moved some trucks around to focus on the areas where we think there will be more traffic,” Rhyne said. “We have got full stockpiles of salt and all our equipment is in good working order.”
Britton said lane and street closures downtown present challenges, and that city crews are checking streets to make sure they note the location of all metal plates and other hazards to snow-removal equipment.
“Business 40 is going to create a little bit of a challenge because you have people finding their way around town,” Britton said, noting the need to “make sure the priority roadways are cleared first.”
The city keeps its snow-removal equipment mothballed when not in use.
“We are running all the spreaders through the equipment checks, making sure the hoses are in good condition,” Britton said. “Anything that looks frayed is replaced. We make sure we have no leaks in the brine tanks.”
The conveyors that pull salt into the spreaders have to be checked for proper operation, he said, but there’s no shortage of salt.
“We are at full capacity for salt, with a dome at City Yard and a shed as full as we want it to be,” Britton said.
Forecasters said today will be sunny with a high in the upper 40s and calm winds. Clouds will move in tonight, and winds will increase after midnight.
Saturday’s forecast calls for slight chances of snow and rain in the early afternoon, and a slight chance of rain after 2 p.m.
The storm really gets going after 1 a.m. Sunday, with wind gusts up to 18 mph and an overnight low of about 28. Sunday’s high may not get above freezing.
Monday could still see rain and sleet amid dropping chances of precipitation, but there’s still a chance of some more snow before 7 p.m. Monday.
Britton said advance preparation is the key to keeping streets as clear as possible during the storm.