January 29, 2014

Hatteras and Ocracoke get little snow, only misery
from winter storm…WITH SLIDE SHOW


Snow lovers on Hatteras and Ocracoke islands were disappointed by the slight - to 1-inch snowfall – much less than 8 inches or so that was forecast a couple days ago.

Instead of snow, we got only misery.

The temperatures have been in the 20s all day. The roads are treacherous for vehicles. Steps and walkways are icy and dangerous for even those on foot. Schools are closed, but it’s so cold and there’s been so little snow that few if any folks have been sledding. And the power has been out on Ocracoke for much of the day.

North of Oregon Inlet, there was more snow – 4 to 6 inches in Kill Devil Hills, 6 inches in Manteo, and 7 inches in Duck and Southern Shores.

At Billy Mitchell Airport in Frisco, only inch of snow was measured, although amounts were somewhat higher on northern Hatteras Island.

Hatteras and Ocracoke had freezing rain, ice, sleet, and then a little snow early this morning because of a layer of warm air aloft that moved in yesterday afternoon.  The precipitation was all rain overnight as temperatures rose into the upper 30s.

David Glenn at the National Weather Service in Newport said the office had reports yesterday of inch of ice in Frisco and inch in Ocracoke.

The ice, coupled with very gusty north winds led to today’s power outage on Ocracoke.

According to Tideland EMC, Ocracoke’s problems began at 5:30 a.m. this morning when a utility pole cross arm broke at the northernmost end of the island along Highway 12, causing a total loss of power for Ocracoke’s 1,300 homes and businesses.

A Tideland news release said that about six spans of power line also fell to the ground, the result of a phenomenon known as galloping lines. The “galloping” effect happens when ice builds up on power lines and wind blows consistently in one direction causing the ice to form like the wing of an airplane around the line. As wind gusts pick up, it causes lines to blow around like they’re actually galloping. This puts tremendous amounts of stress on utility poles, cross arms, and conductors.

Tideland EMC crews and contractors initially restored power to Ocracoke at 10:10 a.m., according to the release, but power went back out at 10:26 a.m. because of unusually high loads on the island’s electric system.

Therefore, co-op personnel sought to reduce the load and brought back up half of the island’s electric system at 10:48 a.m. As the electric load continued to grow, Tideland EMC asked for immediate emergency conservation efforts and Hyde County officials issued a reverse 911 call to island residents asking for voluntary conservation.

After the electric load normalized Tideland crews were able to restore power to the rest of the island at 12:20 p.m. Crews then began work to clear up scattered outages in the village affecting approximately 100 consumers.

At 2:10 p.m. power once again went off at the island, the result of a second broken cross arm as wind and ice continued to create galloping lines. Crews replaced the second cross arm just south of Molasses Creek and have manually removed as much ice as possible from beach front power lines. Power was restored to the island at 4:25 p.m., and island crews are now working to restore power to a few dozen remaining homes that had problems unrelated to galloping lines.

In advance of the storm, Tideland EMC staged additional crews on the island more than doubling the available manpower to address ice and wind related outages. Additional crews were also staged on the mainland, but so far there have been no inland service problems for the cooperative.

There have been few if any problems on Hatteras Island.

The National Weather Service changed a winter storm warning to a winter weather advisory this morning.  The advisory is in effect until noon on Thursday and is mostly for low temperatures, low wind chill, and extremely hazardous roads.

Glenn at the Weather Service said temperatures will fall into the low 20s tonight.  Tomorrow the temperatures could rise to above freezing for a brief period, and then fall on the southern Outer Banks to freezing or slightly above.

Highways and side streets will remain hazardous until temperatures rise into the 40s on Friday and then into the 50s over the weekend.

  • Dare and Hyde county schools remain closed.
  • Dare and Hyde county offices and courts remain closed.
  • The National Park Service’s facilities on the Outer Banks – Cape Hatteras National Seashore, the Wright Brothers National Memorial, and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site – remain closed tomorrow.
  • In addition, all of the state’s ferry routes remain shut down until conditions improve. Real-time updates are available on the North Carolina Ferry System’s Facebook page, and on its Twitter account (@NCDOT_Ferry).
The county schools and government, as well as the National Park Service will reassess conditions late tomorrow and make decisions for Friday.



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