Few flakes left, but threat of black ice lingers
Posted February 17, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — Snow fell steadily across central North Carolina on Saturday, blanketing the region in a picturesque coat of white that caused few problems for people who ventured out to enjoy it.
The Triangle’s third snow of the season was nearly idyllic, compared with two bouts of snow in January that sparked brief power outages and hundreds of wrecks for workaday commuters. Your snow photos: Feb. 16, 2013
Flakes fell from 7 a.m. in some areas to past midnight in others, but there wasn’t enough accumulation to wreak havoc on the roads. Authorities reported no weather-related accidents through 11 p.m.
Still, residents should remain cautious as precipitation that remains on the roadways increases the potential for black ice overnight and into Sunday morning.
The National Weather Service has issued a black ice advisory for most areas through 10 a.m. Sunday, when any lingering ice should melt.
“The biggest problems with this system may occur after the precipitation stops falling,” WRAL Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. “Up until this point, it’s been nice to look at but nothing that’s got in anybody’s way. That may change quickly overnight, especially in these areas that are getting additional snow.”
The complex system proved to be “full of surprises,” Fishel said.
Light rain turned to snow early in the day, with accumulations ranging from a trace in parts of Wake County in to 2.5 inches in Buies Creek by 5 p.m. There was a lull in the storm at that point, but a second band of snow was expected to move into the region from the Triad by 7 p.m.
But that second band fizzled out around 8 p.m., and it appeared the snow was tapering off from east to west.
Then the system took a last gasp and pivoted back east around 11 p.m. By midnight, fresh snow was falling in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Zebulon and surrounding areas.
The state Department of Transportation called in employees about 6 p.m. so they could head out with trucks to salt and sand icy spots. About 20 trucks were initially dispatched, and more were on standby.
“This whole system’s been tough,” Fishel said. “The snow actually lingered longer than we thought it would.”
After that last flake falls, he said, what matters is "whether the water evaporates off the roads or freezes."
Regional temperatures will dip into the 20s overnight and will hover around freezing by 7 a.m., increasing the potential for slick roadways. The melting process won't start until about 9 a.m.
"Anything wet that has fallen will freeze," WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said.
Authorities are encouraging motorists to use caution and slow down. That advice was echoed by Arthur Eatmon, a trucker from Rocky Mount who is accustomed to driving in rough weather.
“In this rainy weather with snow and ice, you can really have a lot of accidents, so slow down and be safe,” he said.