Icy conditions and cold weather prompted slick roads, stranded motorists and multiple motor vehicle collisions on New Year’s Eve, according to reports.
According to Emergency Services Director William Kehler, McDowell 911 Communications fielded 364 calls and 40 weather-related incidents on Sunday, including vehicle crashes and stranded motorists, due to arctic air and freezing conditions on the roadway.
Among those reported, at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, multiple incidents were reported on Old Fort Mountain, prompting a shutdown of I-40 westbound at Exit 73. Westbound lanes remained shut down starting at 3:30 p.m. until 5:49 p.m. while both lanes were treated by Department of Transportation (DOT).
During one of these reported collisions, two patients were transported to McDowell Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Additional weather related incidents were reported on Mt. Hebron Road, Bat Cave Road, Pine Cove Road, N.C. 80, N.C. 226 North and Linville Mountain, with additional closures 226 North and Mt. Hebron Road for a short period of time.
Most problem areas in Northwestern McDowell received an initial light coating of ice topped with a half inch to 1.5 inches of snow, according to Kehler.
No serious injuries were reported as a result of Sunday’s conditions.
Agencies that responded to these various incidents include Crooked Creek, Old Fort, P.G., Woodlawn, Ashford North Cove and Parkway Fire & Rescue departments, McDowell EMS, Emergency Management, Old Fort Police Department, N.C. Highway Patrol and DOT.
On Monday, McDowell County Schools announced that they would operate on a two-hour delay for students on Tuesday due to sub-zero wind chills reported for that morning.
According to the Foothills Weather Network (FWN)’s Monday weather briefing, Jan. 1, 2018 produced as many as five record minimum high temperatures for New Year’s Day with a high of 24 degrees Fahrenheit, with previous records that include 31 degrees in 1918 as confirmed by the National Weather Service.
The FWN’s 7-Day Forecast reported a high of 32 degrees on Tuesday with mostly cloudy conditions for Wednesday and a high of 37, mostly sunny on Thursday with a high of 31 and mostly sunny on Friday with a high of 29.
According to Tuesday’s briefing on the network’s Facebook page, the cold weather will likely result in high demand for electricity across the region, resulting in potential power outages from the heavy electrical load. Those requiring electricity or heating or medical equipment should consider having backup heat or electrical sources available.