Black Mountain handled winter storm well, town officials say

Ezra Maille
Black Mountain News

After receiving heavy snowfall beginning on Jan. 16, the Black Mountain public works department had its hands full clearing off roads. 

"We've done pretty good," said Jamey Matthews, the director of public works. "It's been nonstop around the clock since we started."

The National Weather Service reported the morning of Jan. 16 that Black Mountain received 3.5 inches at the onset of the storm. The report stated the Black Mountain/Old Fort area received 8.5 inches in total.

Despite the heavy snowfall on Jan. 16, Jamey Matthews, the director of public works, said Black Mountain handled removal very well.

Only one plow briefly broke down, due to a tire issue, according to Matthews. He said there weren't any other incidents, injuries or accidents. 

Public works was assisted by the sanitation department with the snow removal. Combining the two departments also made up for being shorthanded with staff due to the pandemic, according to Matthews.

Matthews said removal was going well until the snow on the roads got packed down and iced over, creating challenges for the removal crews. He said although the town staff pretreated much of the town in areas prone to icing, there's not much to be done once it's iced except wait for it to thaw. 

Black Mountain began snow removal immediately, according to town officials.

With Black Mountain residents indoors, Matthews said the first round of removal went smoothly, with minimal cars on the roads. Once people began to drive again, the snow hardened, freezing into ice as the temperature dropped. 

"It always goes a whole lot better when people aren't out and about," Matthews said. "When people start driving on it and it packs down into solid ice, then basically your plow is just running over the top of it." 

The removal process divides the town into six zones with one truck per zone. Including one or two extra trucks as well as contractors who help with the high country in town, Matthews said the town was "well equipped for what we got."

As things begin to thaw, Matthews said the crews will move into touch-up work, widening roads, opening sidewalks and clearing off parking spaces.