SHELBY -Parts of western North Carolina could see snow tonight, and N.C. Department of Transportation crews are prepared if winter weather hits the region.
The National Weather Service has issued both winter weather advisory and a winter storm warning for portions of the North Carolina mountains from 4 p.m. today through Friday, Jan. 3, at 7 a.m. Snow accumulation is expected to be the highest in counties along the Tennessee border.
NCDOT crews in the affected counties are preparing equipment and supplies to keep roads clear in advance of the possible winter weather. The department gives first priority to clearing interstates and four-lane divided primary routes. After these roads are clear, priority moves to clearing lower-volume primary roads, secondary roads, and then subdivision streets.
The NCDOT chose not to spread salt brine on roads for this weather event, because the precipitation started as rain, which would wash away and dilute the salt brine.
Here's how each of the mountain region divisions are preparing for this round of winter weather:
Division 11 (Yadkin, Surry, Wilkes, Alleghany, Ashe, Watauga, Caldwell and Avery counties):
Crews in the division's mountain counties will come in at 6 p.m. today to begin clearing primary roads as needed. Secondary roads will be cleared starting Friday morning. If additional manpower is needed, the division will decide by 10 p.m. tonight whether to call in contractors to help with snow and/or ice removal.
Black ice has been reported in Ashe and Avery counties. Crews are treating those spots and will continue to monitor changing road conditions.
NCDOT crews in the division's non-mountain counties are on standby.
Division 13 (Burke, McDowell, Rutherford, Buncombe, Madison, Yancey and Mitchell counties):
Division 13 crews have already begun treating icy spots in counties along the Tennessee border. In Mitchell and Yancey counties, crews started 12-hour shifts to assist with clearing snow and ice. They will work around the clock until affected roads are clear.
The division has full supplies of salt and sand, and its road-clearing equipment is ready to begin responding to snow or ice accumulation.
Division 14 (Haywood, Jackson, Henderson, Polk, Transylvania, Swain, Macon, Clay, Cherokee and Graham counties)
Division 14 is monitoring road conditions to decide when its crews will begin two 12-hour shifts for clearing snow and ice.
NCDOT workers from Division 14 will report tonight to work through the night in anticipation of snow and trees in roadways. There will be 12 employees from Haywood County, six from Swain County, eight from Graham County and 15 from Cherokee County.
Crews in other counties and additional crews in these counties may be called in if needed.
For real-time travel information at any time, call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or follow NCDOT on Twitter at www.ncdot.gov/travel/twitter. Another option is NCDOT Mobile, a phone-friendly version of the NCDOT website. To access it, type "m.ncdot.gov" into the browser of your smartphone. Then, bookmark it to save for future reference.