CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Transportation has already started prepping for snow and ice by treating roads and installing plows and spreaders on trucks ahead of this weekend's winter storm.
Crews say they're more than prepared as this isn't the first snowstorm of the season in the Carolinas.
"Hopefully the forecast will give us a better picture, but we'll be notifying our crews over the weekend and we will be ready to tackle whatever we come up with," Charles Jones, deputy street superintendent for the City of Charlotte, said.
Meanwhile, over at Mecklenburg EMS (Medic) headquarters in west Charlotte, they're overstaffing this weekend with paramedics and have EMTs ready if needed. Medic said they will stock ambulances with de-icers, scrapers and ice melts, as well as the necessary life-saving equipment they already keep on board.
They're confident they can handle whatever Mother Nature brings to the Queen City.
"This is nothing. We've been more than prepared to respond within our community," Nic Howard with Mecklenburg EMS said. "This is just a speed bump in the road for us."
Duke Energy is calling in an additional 1,000 linemen from Florida and the Midwest to assist with expected power outages during the storm. A Duke Energy spokesperson said it only takes about a quarter-inch of ice to bring down power lines. First Warn forecaster Larry Sprinkle said this weekend's storm will bring a significant ice threat to the Charlotte metro as freezing rain and snow mix together Sunday.
Duke Energy announced it estimates 750,000 customers to lose power in North Carolina and South Carolina overnight Saturday based on the storm’s current forecasted track, and power outages in some of the hardest-hit areas could last several days.
North Carolina Department of Transportation said crews didn't treat the roads in Watauga County Friday because many of them still have residual salt from last week's snowstorm.
DOT's Watauga County engineer Travis Chrisawn said they have about three dozen pieces of equipment ready to operate with crews working 12-hour shifts.
NCDOT confirmed that it was also bringing in contractors to help keep the roads clear, due to COVID-19 cases impacting DOT employees.
But, he said COVID-19 has affected them so they’re asking people to be extra patient this weekend.
"We're running about 75 or 80% staff. It's going to take us a little bit longer to get to the secondary roads but we will get there," Chrisawn said. "We'll continue with our snow removal operations until all roads have been cleared."
At Conover Hardware, Penny Matthews said a lot of people are coming in to get extra propane, generators, kerosene heaters, and sleds.
"We are selling anything you could think of weather-related," Matthews said. "I think people are really taking this seriously this time so we are here and prepared as long as we have product."
Some places already ran out of products like bread and water, including at the Harris Teeter in Boone.
"We were ready for it to start with so we just got a few things we need," Alvin Trivette said.
WINTER WEATHER PREP
WCNC Charlotte Meteorologist KJ Jacobs compiled a comprehensive guide to help you navigate those cold, snowy and sometimes dangerous conditions.
READ MORE: Winter weather preparedness: A how-to guide