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NCDOT: Hundreds of downed trees impede travel

N.C. Department of Transportation crews across western North Carolina will continue pushing snow and fallen trees from interstates and primary highways on Sunday.

Clearing interstates and primary highways will remain the top priorities from the far western edges to Surry County. All interstate routes have at least one lane — and in most cases both lanes — open for travel.

Transportation officials recommending limiting all road travel to essential trips only. The best plan is to stay in a safe location.

All major primaries are at least partially covered with snow and ice after a winter storm dumped 5-to-15 inches of snow — even more in some locations — on Saturday and through Sunday afternoon. Cherokee County is the only western county with clear roads. Even Clay, Graham and Macon counties have some primary roads covered.

The storm toppled a total estimate of more than 1,000 trees in several mountain counties including Jackson, Haywood, Transylvania, Polk and Rutherford counties. An estimated 500 trees cover the shoulder of U.S. 74 in Polk County and some were blocking the travel lanes of I-26 Sunday morning.

The teams in 25 western counties, which are comprised of 463 employees, already combined to spread 4,800 tons of salt and 1,200 tons of a salt-and-sand mixture before sunrise on Sunday. Those crews will continue working around-the-clock in western North Carolina until all roads are clear.

Safety tips for motorists and details on how NCDOT works in winter storms can be found on the NCDOT websites. For real-time travel information, visit DriveNC.gov or follow NCDOT on Twitter.