Published: 2013-01-18 15:52:00
Updated: 2013-01-18 19:35:21
Posted January 18, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Although snow had mostly melted by Friday afternoon, chilly temperatures make black ice a threat again overnight and into Saturday.
The quick-moving storm system that brought rain and snow to the Triangle early Friday caused problems during the morning commute as temperatures hovered near freezing, and the scenario could repeat again to start the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
The state Department of Transportation struggled to keep up with the weather as drivers headed out to work while black ice formed Friday. DOT Deputy Chief Engineer Jon Nance said trucks couldn't pre-treat roads before the snow began because the rain would have washed it away.
But as the snow started to melt and drivers hit the roads, the calls began. By 8 a.m., dozens of fender benders and minor wrecks had been reported, and traffic was crawling along Interstate 40 and Interstate 540 in Durham and Wake counties.
"As the sun comes up, the wind picks up and you get that freezing – that flash freeze if you will – on the pavements. You're really at the mercy of where you think it's gonna be and where you get calls," Nance said.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to 122 crash calls during the morning rush across 14 counties in central North Carolina. Troopers answered 57 calls about wrecks in Wake County and another 15 in Durham, according to First Sgt. Jeff Gordon.
"I was watching the news. There was a lot of traffic going on 40 and Airport Boulevard," said Keno McKayhan, "I decided to take (N. C. Highway) 54 instead of 40 and get to work a little bit faster."
Nance said DOT crew hit spots all through the night where they expected trouble.
"We coordinated with the highway patrol and others. We had trucks on our major routes all through the night," he said.
Wet roads were partly to blame for two crashes within minutes of each other on South Saunders Street in Raleigh Thursday evening, involving nine cars total. One person was hospitalized with minor injuries, authorities said.
Firefighters pulling an injured passenger out of car on the icy I-440 bridge over Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.
Shawn Long, of Wake Forest, saw several cars slip off Capital Boulevard. "There were police cars, people were going slowly around it," he said.
In Knightdale, police closed part of U.S. Highway 264 after a box truck flipped over.
Conditions began improving after 9 a.m. as temperatures climbed through the 30s and toward the forecast high of 44 degrees.
Many school systems, including Wake, Chatham, Halifax, Warren and Moore counties, decided to delay classes for two hours Friday morning in preparation for the slick conditions.
Durham, Vance, Person, Orange, Franklin and Granville County schools closed entirely.