Warming temps will melt slick spots by mid-morning
Posted December 16, 2016
Updated December 17, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Law enforcement agencies across the Triangle responded to multiple crashes on area roads early Saturday after they became slick from a round of freezing rain that arrived late Friday.
Raleigh police said early Saturday that they had responded to 187 wrecks within the city limits. The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said troopers responded to 179 crashes, as well.
Temperatures hovering in the upper 20s across much of the region around 2 a.m. were plenty cold enough for any precipitation to freeze on the roads. The bulk of the Triangle is under a freezing rain advisory, including Wake, Durham, Johnston and Orange counties, until 9 a.m.
Traffic troubles still lingered on major roads into the morning. Trucks stuck at Interstate 540 and Glenwood Road lead to delays around 6:30 a.m.
Freezing rain is expected to transition to rain as it moves out of the region Saturday morning.
"In terms of it falling, it would mainly be between midnight and 6 a.m, and it will likely be freezing sprinkles," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
"The problem is if you are driving and hit any of that, it can be a big deal. That's why the advisory is out. I certainly don't want anyone to think we'll have to worry about power outages, because it will be a very light event."
"While accumulations of freezing rain will likely be very light, it doesn't take much ice on a bridge or road to cause problems," WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said.
Road crews in Wake County applied brine to different locations on Friday to head off any potential problems, but numerous wrecks were being reported Saturday morning on major roadways, including I-40, I-440, I-540, U.S. 1 and U.S. 64.
Overnight Department of Transportation crews in Durham, Franklin and Wake counties were planning to be on standby to spot treat trouble areas. Once the sun rises on Saturday, though, it will be warm enough to erase any of the potential slickness.
"As we get towards daybreak, the precipitation will be gone and temperatures should warm up, so it's going to be a brief period overnight until 4 or 5 a.m," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said. "By tomorrow afternoon, if we have enough sunshine, we could get up to 60 degrees."
"During the day Saturday, we could get some breaks in the clouds, and if we get enough, it will really warm up quite a bit on Saturday." Fishel said. "We know it's going to be very warm on Sunday, but we don't know how quickly it's going to warm up."
The temperature will continue to climb through the weekend, reaching 54 on Saturday and spiking to 71 on Sunday. But as quickly as the mercury climbs, it will drop again on Monday back down to a high of 37 degrees when a new cold front rolls through the area.
"Over the weekend we've got all sorts of wild temperature swings to look forward to," Fishel said.