Weather-related closures continue, Brunswick County Schools on delay Tuesday

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By Staff Report

Many government offices in Brunswick County opted to close Wednesday, Jan. 3, and have remained closed because of expected snow and ice that could make safe travel impossible.


Brunswick County Schools remained closed for students Monday, Jan. 8, Superintendent Les Tubb announced Sunday afternoon. The day was an optional teacher workday with a 2-hour delay for staff. According to a district Facebook post, the district will be on a 2-hour delay Tuesday, Jan. 9.

Brunswick County government offices will also remain closed Friday, Jan. 5, including the Brunswick County Tax Office. The deadline to pay real and personal property taxes is Friday, but payments can be made without accruing interest by Monday, Jan. 8, when offices will reopen 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Payments can also be made without accruing interest if paid online or postmarked by Friday, Jan. 5. For more information go to brunswickcountync.gov.

The National Weather Service office in Wilmington issued a winter storm warning Tuesday for an area including Brunswick County, effective through 6 a.m. Thursday. The warning meant the area was expected to receive a wintry mix of precipitation beginning during the day Wednesday and changing to snow before ending Wednesday night.

The NWS office in Wilmington said at noon Wednesday antecedent ground temperatures are very cold and any precipitation that occurs will create hazardous driving conditions.

Wintry precipitation is occurring across southern areas and will spread northward through the afternoon. Precipitation will persist through tonight coming to an end late.

Accumulating snow of 2 to 4 inches is possible on all surfaces, generally east of Interstate 95 and just inland of the coast.

In addition, ice accumulations up to a tenth of an inch are possible, especially in Georgetown County and parts of Horry County, S.C. (less than a tenth of an inch elsewhere across coastal areas).

Uncertainty remains in specific snow amounts. Any subtle changes in dominant precipitation type will create changes to accumulations, both in amounts and location.

Freezing rain is ongoing across southern areas, and the area of freezing rain will spread northward across coastal northeast South Carolina through the early afternoon, and by mid-afternoon across coastal southeast North Carolina.

Snow will increase and spread across far inland areas through the early afternoon, while a changeover is expected at coastal areas by this evening. Snow will come to an end from west to east after midnight.

Travel will become very hazardous and power outages are possible, especially in areas that receive the highest ice accumulations.


Brunswick Transit System closed Wednesday.

Holden Beach Town Hall will reopen at 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 5, when property taxes are due. No penalty will be assessed if payments are postmarked by Jan. 5. Payments can also be deposited in the metal drop box in front of Town Hall or made online at Xpress-pay.com. Payments made online are charged a 3 percent site fee. 

The Brunswick County Chamber of Commerce canceled its AM Perks program scheduled for 8 a.m. Thursday because of the weather.

Carolina Shores encouraged “residents to monitor the National Weather Service, to expect dangerous driving conditions associated with up to 2 inches of accumulated ice and snow. All exterior surfaces will be slick and potentially dangerous. If you must drive, please do so cautiously and slowly. Unnecessary travel is not advised. All residents are encouraged to be mindful and cautious with supplemental heating sources to avoid fire danger and carbon monoxide poisoning,” it said in a news release. “The town is operating its Emergency Operations Center that may be reached at 575-4877 or 575-3097. Dial 211 for non-emergency assistance. Dial 911 for emergency assistance.”

Leland Town offices and the Leland Cultural Arts Center will remain closed through Monday, Jan. 8, due to ice and winter weather conditions, it was announced Sunday afternoon. They are scheduled to return to regular operating hours on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

A Shallotte Board of Aldermen meeting set for 5:15 p.m. Jan. 3 was postponed until Jan. 4.

Sunset Beach Town Hall remained closed Thursday, Jan. 4, because of hazardous conditions still posed by both treated and untreated roads. E-alerts will be sent and the town website updated as information becomes available.

Brunswick County government offices also were closed Wednesday, but the courthouse was to remain open with proceedings scheduled until noon. The Brunswick County Courthouse will be closed all day Jan. 4.

The deadline to pay 2017 real and personal property taxes is Friday, Jan. 5, county spokeswoman Amanda Hutcehson said. In addition to being paid in person during office hours, taxes can be paid online by e-check at no charge, or online by credit or debit card (fees do apply). Payments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 29, Bolivia, NC 28422, and payments postmarked on or before Friday are not counted as late.

To pay a property tax bill by e-check, go to http://bit.ly/2CfhuAr. To pay a property tax bill by credit or debit card, go to http://bit.ly/2CxqGDO. To view your tax bill or see the amount due, go to http://tax.brunsco.net/itsnet/TaxBill.aspx.

H2GO's main office will be closed Wednesday, Jan. 3. 

H2GO will have crews on standby and customers were encouraged to report any water or sewer emergencies. For water emergencies, call 367-1537. 
For sewer emergencies, call 367-2084.


The North Carolina Department of Transportation is brining state roads in preparation for potential ice and snow Wednesday, communications officer Brian Rick said Tuesday.

The NCDOT began spraying the salt and water solution meant to inhibit ice forming on roads Monday.

Brunswick County roads including Interstate 140, U.S. 74/76 and U.S. 17 were in the works Tuesday afternoon, Rick added.

“It will be effective to a point,” Rick said. “Once the storm moves in we will move to removing (ice or snow) from the roads by salting the ice or plowing.”

He said the NCDOT will continue laying down brine Wednesday morning.

“Depending on the timing of tomorrow’s weather, the best thing to do is stay off the roads (once the precipitation starts.) Get what you need in advance — food, water, medicine,” Rick said.

Brunswick County Emergency Services Director Brian Watts said the county will coordinate with municipalities if a shelter or shelters will be opened.

“Things are (still) unfolding. The situation might be ice, it might be snow, it might be a little, it might be a lot,” Watts said. “We’ll see what the weather service has to say.”

Watts added they would only open a shelter if there is a major power outage.

Watts recommended residents play it safe with travel.

“The bottom line is if you don’t have to, don’t drive. We do not have the resources to keep roads clear like a lot of places where our people came from,” he said.

Watts also advised being careful with alternate heating sources if you lose power. He recommended taking the same precautions or preparations as during a power outage.

Watts said the county CodeRed system does not send out advisories, like the NWS storm warning.

Brunswick County Public Utilities issued a notice to all water customers to take precautions to protect their irrigation and household water systems from freezing.

Exposed backflow assemblies for irrigation systems should be removed or adequately insulated.

Exposed water lines to fixtures, such as outside showers, should be isolated and drained. Pour a small amount of RV/Marine antifreeze (Prestone, Peak, or equivalent) into drains/toilets that may be subject to freezing. Do not use standard automotive antifreeze/coolant.

Exposed water lines in open crawl spaces should be adequately insulated.

Turn off irrigation systems to avoid creating icy sidewalks and driveways.

If your water lines do freeze, please be careful when thawing the lines. Do not apply excessive heat which may damage pipes or cause a fire. Heating devices with open flames should not be used.

Electric heaters and heat tape should be powered through a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter in case the device comes into contact with standing or spraying water.


Some residents raised concerns about three dogs tethered outside a mobile home in an Ocean Isle Beach neighborhood.

Paws-Ability president Janie Withers said neighbors alerted her to the dogs’ living conditions late Monday night. She said the dogs are pit/lab mixes weighing about 20 pounds each.

Withers said she called 911 to make a report to animal control officers after midnight Tuesday, but said nothing was done until about 12 hours later, when a Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Animal Protective Services employee came to the property, posted a sign about noon Tuesday, letting the owners know they had 72 hours to take corrective action, and said he would visit the home every two hours to check on the dogs during that 72-hour period. 

Withers said neighbors have been putting food out for the dogs, which are tethered with a logging chain. The only shelter two of the dogs have is a plastic kennel with the front “torn out of it and holes in the top,” she said. It appeared one of the dogs couldn’t reach the kennel.

Withers said the animals’ current conditions are at odds with North Carolina Statute 14-360 (http://bit.ly/2CGmLSw), regarding cruelty to animals. “It says they have to have a house adequate to protect from current weather conditions, and (Wednesday’s) freezing rain and 5 degrees, it doesn’t adequately protect (the dogs),” she said.

“As with any case of alleged animal cruelty, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office Animal Protective Services remains vigilant in investigating the mistreatment of animals and will take any necessary action within the law to protect them,” Sheriff John Ingram said in a statement released via spokeswoman Emily Flax. “Although the animals are in compliance with North Carolina law and have access to food, water and shelter, APS has concerns for the safety of the animals due to the extreme cold conditions. APS has spoken with the pet owner, advised them of those concerns and recommended that the animals be moved to a location where they will have better protection from the outdoor elements.  The pet owner has indicated that they will move animals indoors this evening due to the cold conditions. APS will follow up tonight to ensure the animals are safe.

“We will not allow animals in this county to be mistreated under any circumstances. Although we are restricted by law in many cases and may be unable to take ownership of an animal, APS makes every effort to educate the pet owner, make recommendations on how to keep their animals safe, and to follow up and hold pet owners accountable.

“We are grateful to those in the community who continue to provide us with tips regarding possible mistreatment of animals and who work with us to help keep them safe.”


The forecast at press time Tuesday reported overnight low temperatures Monday reached the teens along the coast down to Georgetown, S.C.

The maximum temperature Tuesday was forecast to only reach the mid-30s, dropping back to near 20 degrees Tuesday night/Wednesday morning.

Winds will be strongest at the coast at 10 to 20 mph, possibly causing ice building up on trees and power lines.

The winter precipitation was anticipated to start across the southern areas Wednesday during the morning commute and spread over the rest of the area.

Precipitation should be heaviest Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Any mixed precipitation is expected to change to all snow by Wednesday evening with snow ending from the southwest to the northeast late Wednesday night in the Cape Fear Region.

Wednesday high temperatures were expected to remain in the low to mid-30s.

The low Wednesday night was expected to drop back to the low- to mid-20s.

Sunshine is expected Thursday, but highs are expected to remain in the 30s during the day and drop into the teens Thursday night.

The long-term forecast shows extremely cold air remaining in the Carolinas into the weekend.

The coldest blast of air is expected Friday with high temperatures possibly not exceeding freezing.

Friday night could drop into the low teens.

The NWS reports temperatures could climb back to the 40s by Sunday and return to seasonable temperatures by Monday, with a chance of showers.

But frigid temperatures are predicted for the middle of next week as well.