Triangle school districts to dismiss classes early Monday as winter storm approaches

Posted February 15, 2015

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— Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties are under a winter storm warning from 4 p.m. Monday until noon Tuesday due to an approaching winter storm that's expected to hit Monday evening.

School systems across the Triangle have taken notice of the approaching weather. The Wake County Public School System will close 2.5 hours early on Monday. Durham Public Schools and Orange County Schools will dismiss three hours early. Classes will also end early at Granville County Schools and Chatham County Schools. Person County Schools will close at noon. After-school and evening activities for Johnston County Schools and Franklin County Schools have been canceled.

Mecklenburg County, Va. schools will open at 10 a.m. Monday due to the cold.

A number of school districts across the region will be closed Monday due to Presidents Day.

Wake County and areas north and west are expected to see 2-4 inches of snow and sleet. Areas near the North Carolina-Virginia state line are likely to see more snow flurries while areas south of the Triangle are expected to see freezing rain, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

"This still looks like a significant winter storm, but when it's all said and done, it won't be snow you'll be talking about," he said. "Above freezing air between 5,000 and 10,000 feet above ground will spoil the snow party, but may deliver a significant amount of sleet."

"The bottom line is that a little snow falls late Monday afternoon into the early evening, followed by several hours of sleet and then freezing rain at the end before precipitation shuts down early Tuesday morning," Fishel added. "I would expect this to be a high impact event, just not as much snow as some would like. As usual, the best chance for several inches of snow is in Roxboro or any area more than 40 to 50 miles northwest of Raleigh."

A winter storm watch have been issued for areas south and east of the Triangle, including Wilson, Johnston and Cumberland counties.

"Tomorrow, we’ll see the clouds thicken up through the day. Everything should be quiet out through early afternoon," WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said. "There might actually be a flurry or two by the time we get to 2 or 3 p.m. and then later in the afternoon, early evening, from about Raleigh, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount (and) northwest, we could start to see some light snow develop."

The majority of the precipitation will move into the Triangle at around 4 p.m., change to sleet by 7 p.m., then to freezing rain by midnight before moving out of the area by Tuesday afternoon, Fishel said.

Tuesday's high is expected to reach 35 degrees. Temperatures will remain around the mid 30s or lower for the rest of the week.

Moss says Monday's system is "very complex" and any forecast this early is subject to change. Regardless of exact amounts of snowfall or sleet, he said, the system could have a significant impact on Triangle roads.

Road crews begin preparations

The North Carolina Department of Transportation began treating the roads Sunday in anticipation of the winter weather.

"Because the expected winter weather event may start as snow and/or ice, NCDOT maintenance crews in Wake, Durham and other counties in the Triangle area will conduct salt brine operations today on interstates, other main routes, bridges and overpasses," NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott said in a statement. "There is no set time for the process to start as crews have to wait until the temperature gets into at least the low 20s for the process to be effective. Because of the temperature restrictions, this will be just a daytime process today."

Cary officials started spraying brine on town roads at 6 a.m. and plan to continue throughout Sunday and Monday.

Scott Hecht, Cary's public works director, said they started spraying the roads so early so the brine can settle onto the road. Cary expects to spray 48,000 gallons of brine on the town's 700 miles of road within the next 48 hours, Hecht said.

"The brine helps more  when the snow hits the road," he said. "It just gives it a little more working time to let the snow kind of adhere and not just hit the black pavement and turn to ice. It gives it a little more melting power."

WRAL anchor Bryan Mims asked Moss if TV reporters should expect to be standing on the side of roads talking about snow and driving conditions.

"There's probably a decent chance of that in the next couple of days," Moss said.

Bitterly cold temperatures will stay put throughout the work week. High temperatures will be in the 30s all week, and overnight lows will be in the low 20s and teens. Normal highs this time of year are in the mid 50s.

Late Saturday into early Sunday, the Triangle and surrounding areas dealt with another weather event – strong winds caused by an arctic cold front that hit the area.

Nearly 20,000 people were without power across the Triangle late Saturday due to downed trees and power lines, according to the Duke Energy Progress website. By Sunday afternoon, that number was down to under 500 across central North Carolina.

Winter weather tips from Duke Energy

  • Check your supply of flashlights, batteries, bottled water, non-perishable foods, medicines, etc.
  • Ensure a portable, battery-operated radio, TV or NOAA weather radio is on hand.
  • Do not attempt to heat your home with a gas grill or by bringing a generator inside. Only operate such equipment outdoors in well-ventilated areas. Follow manufacturer instructions.
  • Check on family members, friends and neighbors who have special medical needs or who are elderly to ensure they have necessary emergency supplies. Encourage them to determine now what action they would take in the event of an extended power outage.

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  • Donald Holder Feb 15, 2015
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    It's President's Day. Harnett County schools aren't out Monday, it's a make-up day.

  • Betty Lanier Feb 15, 2015
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    Monday is not a holiday for everyone. Which Holiday is it - BTW?

  • Karen Byrd Feb 15, 2015
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    Sleet, no thanks. Chapel Hill desires snow!

  • Richard Burrough Feb 15, 2015
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    Poor Grocery Store Employees!

  • Wayne R. Douglas Feb 15, 2015
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    How about just staying home this year. Since Monday is a holiday and Tuesday schools will be closed due to snow and/or ice, there is no reason for so many people to be out driving in conditions they have no clue how to maneuver in.

  • Bob Leah Feb 15, 2015
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    Just in case... some tips on how to drive in the snow. Fire extinguisher still recommenced!

  • Dick Hodgin Feb 15, 2015
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    The Milk & Bread Consortium has issued the "S" word........

  • Beth Pearce Feb 15, 2015
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    (Strawberry Letter 23)