Wilmington - N.C. Department of Transportation crews in Division 3, which includes Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, Onslow, Duplin and Sampson Counties, are preparing for the worst case scenario should Tropical Storm Hermine severely impact the region starting Friday.
Division 3 has been in full preparation mode, and workers have been checking equipment, chainsaws, and resources such as barricades, signs and pipes. Maintenance crews have also been clearing storm drains and identifying potential trouble spots.
The greatest impact from the weather is expected to occur tonight and early tomorrow morning, with wind and rain likely lasting throughout the weekend. Severe flooding, especially in low lying areas, is anticipated.
Depending upon the intensity, track and duration of the storm, downed power lines, toppled trees and torn tree limbs are possible. If the region experiences a direct hit from Tropical Storm Hermine, debris such as tree limbs will likely find its way onto travel lanes.
The Department of Transportation advises motorists to refrain from travel during and immediately after the storm when roads might become impassible. Additionally, there are several serious road hazards that can make travel soon after a storm passes extremely dangerous, including downed powerlines beneath flooded streets, potential washout of the road due to heavy downpours, high water levels that can strand motorists and toppled trees with shallow root systems. Here are some very important severe weather safety tips and considerations:
Make storm preparations in advance. Stock up with enough water, medication, baby formula, non-perishable food and other essentials to last a minimum of 72 hours.
Traveling during a storm can be very dangerous. Avoid driving unless it is absolutely necessary and do not drive through standing water.
Stay clear of streams, drainage channels and areas known to flood.
If you do travel after the storm passes, be aware that traffic lights might be out at various intersections. In this instance, use caution and treat the intersection as a four-way stop. If you have an emergency on the road, and your cell phone is operational, you can contact the Highway Patrol statewide by calling *HP (*47) or call law enforcement by dialing 911. Please don't call 911 to check on road conditions.
Reduce your speed and drive defensively. Motorists should drive at least five to 10 miles per hour slower on wet pavement and allow at least twice the normal following distance between cars to provide ample room for stopping. Be ready for a sudden stop. Remember that the driver behind you cannot see well either in the rain. Signal for turns ahead of time and brake early as you near a stop. Be patient and do not pass lines of traffic.
Roads are the slickest once rain has begun to fall. For the first 10 to 15 minutes, the rain combines with dirt, dust, oil, grease and rubber to create a slippery surface. If the rain is extremely heavy, stop and pull over with your emergency flashers on, away from any trees or other tall objects. If motorists must exit the vehicle, they should do so on the passenger side of the car.
Turn on your low beam headlights and use the defroster to increase visibility whether it is day or night. North Carolina law states that motorists must use their headlights at all times while using windshield wipers, regardless of the time of day.
Do not drive through flooded areas. If you see a flooded roadway ahead, turn around and take an alternate route to your destination. If there is no alternate route, head to higher ground and wait for the water to subside. Do not attempt to cross over a flooded road even if it seems shallow. Just one foot of water can float many vehicles, while two feet of rushing water can carry away vehicles including SUVs and pick-ups.
- After driving through a puddle, tap your brake pedal to help dry your brake rotors.
Know what to do if your car begins to hydroplane. Hydroplaning occurs when your tires glide across the surface of the water on the road. If your car starts to hydroplane, take your foot off the gas, but do not stomp on the brakes. Instead, apply the brakes in a steady, slightly firm manner, and steer in the direction of the skid. If you have a manual transmission push in the clutch and let the car slow down on its own. If you have an automatic transmission, hold the steering wheel steady and lightly apply the brakes. For cars that have antilock brakes, you should apply more pressure to the brakes, but avoid pumping them.
Put together a supply kit for your trunk. Include a flashlight, first aid kit with an instructional manual, blanket, booster cables, shovel, sand to give tires needed traction, snacks and drinking water, and safety flares or an orange or red cloth to tie to the antenna.
Residents and visitors can to download the ReadyNC app for real-time weather and traffic information. Road condition updates are also available in the Travel section of NCDOT.gov or by following NCDOT on Twitter, where the storm can be followed at #HermineNC.