Storm claims life in Flat Rock


By Andy Winemiller - [email protected]



Jay Hunter prepares to sled down a hillside at Jones Elementary School in Mount Airy.


Andy Winemiller | The News

Benjamin Cockerham checks out snow for the first time.


Submitted photograph

Tinsley Burcham makes her first snow angel.


Submitted photograph

Kelsey McDermott and daughters Izabella and Rozalyn play in the snow.


Submitted photograph

The season’s first winter storm claimed a life in Surry County on Sunday.

According to EMS Director John Shelton, a cold weather injury resulted in a fatality in the Flat Rock area. A man went outside, where he fell. The man was lightly dressed, and though he eventually was able to get inside the house, he succumbed to hypothermia.

Shelton indicated he could not release any further information regarding the death.

The EMS director said Surry County motorists have weathered the storm quite well, with few collisions reported on the roadways. However, the worst period of time for snow and ice related traffic accidents is only beginning.

“Drivers get a sense of false security,” said Shelton, explaining motorists speed up because they believe the roadways to be clear.

“The secondary roads are still pretty bad,” warned Shelton.

Shelton said his crews responded to a number of ice related falls throughout the course of the weekend. There were also a number of sledding incidents, and on Saturday about 3,000 county residents were without power.

On Friday the first of the snow began to fall in Mount Airy. Throughout the course of the storm nearly 6 inches fell at Mount Airy’s reporting location, the city’s water treatment plant.

Frigid temperatures also registered, according to data collected at the plant. Early Monday morning the temperature fell to 6 degrees. The record low for Jan. 9 was set in 1970 when thermometers registered 2 degrees below zero.

Kids got a long weekend, as Surry County Schools and the Mount Airy City Schools were closed on Monday, and both districts will remain closed through Tuesday.

The offices of Surry County government did not open until 11:15 a.m. on Monday.

The weather also affected trash pick-up in Mount Airy. Tuesday’s pick-up will be curbside only and will begin at 9 a.m. That stated, a statement from the sanitation department indicates if crews deem the conditions on a road to be unsafe, they will not service that portion of the route.

Across the state, N.C. Department of Transportation officials applied more than 3 million gallons of salt brine prior to the storm hitting on Friday, according to a media release from the state’s Department of Emergency Management.

In the same statement, Gov. Roy Cooper asked residents to stay off of the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary. The N.C. Highway Patrol reported about 1,500 calls for service on Saturday, about 700 of which were collisions.

Icy road conditions also claimed a life on Sunday, when the car a woman was driving slid off of I-73 in Montgomery County and struck a tree, according to another statement. The driver was killed, and two passengers were injured.

Locally, as Shelton stated, some roads remained ice and snow covered as late as Monday morning, said N.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Mitch Haunn.

“Some of the secondary roads are still pretty bad — very slick,” explained Haunn, who works in both Surry and Stokes Counties. “The primary roads are 90 percent free of ice and snow.”

Haunn said though roads such as U.S. 52 are largely cleared there are still isolated areas which remain icy. He asked residents to stay at home and off of the roadways if possible.

Haunn noted he and fellow troopers stayed busy throughout the duration of the storm, even with extra personnel who were called in to work. However, while call volume has increased, Surry and Stokes counties have evaded any tragedies or major incidents. Locally, there have been few collisions as a result of the road conditions.

“We haven’t had an overwhelming number of calls, and the majority of calls have been for motorists who are stranded or stuck,” said Haunn.

Jay Hunter prepares to sled down a hillside at Jones Elementary School in Mount Airy.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_FirstSnow2.jpgJay Hunter prepares to sled down a hillside at Jones Elementary School in Mount Airy. Andy Winemiller | The News

Benjamin Cockerham checks out snow for the first time.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_FirstSnow5.jpegBenjamin Cockerham checks out snow for the first time. Submitted photograph

Tinsley Burcham makes her first snow angel.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_FirstSnow3.jpegTinsley Burcham makes her first snow angel. Submitted photograph

Kelsey McDermott and daughters Izabella and Rozalyn play in the snow.
http://mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_FirstSnow4.jpegKelsey McDermott and daughters Izabella and Rozalyn play in the snow. Submitted photograph

By Andy Winemiller

[email protected]

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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