Cold temps, wet roads cause black ice concerns for morning commute

Posted March 5, 2015
Updated March 6, 2015

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— Temperatures are expected to dip into the 20s early Friday morning, raising concern of black ice on Triangle roads.

The threat of slippery roads led all Triangle school districts, including Wake, Durham and Chapel Hill-Carrboro, to start Friday classes on a two-hour delay.

"We have a lot of moisture on the roads," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. "We hope that evaporates before the cold air really settles in."

Roads were wet Thursday night after rain fell throughout the day. Areas north and west of Raleigh, including Roxboro, experienced light snow and were expected to receive sleet and freezing rain Thursday evening.

Cold air will spread throughout the Triangle overnight – temperatures are expected to drop to 32 degrees by midnight, 22 degrees by 6 a.m. Friday.

A winter weather advisory is in effect for central North Carolina until noon Friday.

"Be aware that there will be some slick spots on the roads tomorrow morning," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Thursday night.

About 60 state Department of Transportation crews in Wake County and 27 crews in Durham County were treating highways with salt and sand to alleviate any black ice.

Ahead of the weather, Person, Halifax, Warren and Granville schools announced that they would close early. Wake and Johnston schools, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, announced that after-school activities would be canceled due to the impending weather. Schools in Wake, Durham, Johnston, Orange, Chatham, Franklin, Harnett, Moore, Sampson, Wilson and Wayne counties, along with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Nash-Rocky Mount Schools, will operate on a two-hour delay Friday. Edgecombe County Schools and Lee County Schools are on a three-hour delay Friday.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled Thursday night classes due to the weather. Classes will resume at 10 a.m. Friday. North Carolina State University classes before 10 a.m. Friday have been canceled.

Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation said maintenance crews were brought in for Wake and Durham counties on Tuesday afternoon and were prepared to work through the night of needed to deal with any icy spots that may develop. There are 60 workers in Wake County and 27 in Durham.

"Because of the rain that has fallen through the day, pre-weather salt brining was not an option as it would wash away," NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott said in a statement. "Once the temperature approaches freezing, crews will be monitoring traditional slippery spots like bridges, ramps and overpasses on interstates and primary roads."

He urged drivers to use caution and slow down.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, about 80 flights were canceled Thursday, mostly because of weather conditions in the Northeast, a spokeswoman said. A Delta flight skidded off a snowy runway at LaGuardia Airport on Thursday morning, forcing closure of the airport's runways for several hours and delaying flights.

The anticipation of ice on walkways led the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro to close Friday. Zoo officials said they hope to reopen Saturday.

Temperatures will start in the low 20s on the final day of the work week and only climb into the mid-30s by the afternoon.

Slightly warmer air will return for the weekend, as highs will be in the 50s to near 60 degrees. Overnight lows will remain cold.

“This looks like it may be winter’s last hurrah,” Maze said of Thursday's weather.


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  • Don Dickerson Mar 5, 2015
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    I'm certain at this point SOMEone is keeping track of how many instructional hours Wake students have missed due to anything short of actual icy roads.

  • Peter Panda Mar 5, 2015
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    Peter, are you really that confused as to what midnight means in this context?

  • Peter Panda Mar 5, 2015
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    Wow-- what useless comments

  • Guy Percy Mar 5, 2015
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    Their legs must hurt from straddling the fence every time we get a winter storm....It's gonna snow a foot or not....maybe be sunny and 80 but maybe a blizzard.

  • Sammy Macloud Mar 5, 2015
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    They sure nailed the 30 degree temp drop. 66 at 0730, 37 at 1230pm smh....

  • Peter Kerstetter Mar 5, 2015
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    I am assuming this "midnight" is really Thursday night at 11:59 + 1 minute. There's a reason why contracts & legal stuff is written as 11:59 pm or 12:01 am--to avoid such confusion.