Hundreds of weather-related wrecks reported; temps still bitter
Posted February 15, 2016
Updated February 16, 2016
Update: 11:05 a.m.: North Carolina State Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Gordon says troopers responded to more than 300 wrecks in the Triangle area between midnight and 10:30 a.m.
Statewide, troopers have responded to 1,109 wrecks in that same time period. Gordon says the majority of those wrecks are weather related, and he also said that no fatalities have been reported.
Update: 11 a.m.: North Carolina State University has canceled Monday classes scheduled to begin before 5 p.m. Employees designated as "mandatory" are expected to work, and evening classes will go on as scheduled, officials said.
Update: 10:45 a.m.: Pockets of sleet and freezing rain continue to fall in parts of Moore, Lee, Chatham, Wake and Durham counties, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner says.
"In general, precipitation is tapering off. A lot of the bulk of it is moving into Virginia, but along the U.S. Highway 1 boundary we're continuing to have the development of precipitation," she said.
Precipitation is likely to stay patchy through the afternoon and into the evening, although it will change over to rain during the afternoon. Temperatures are creeping toward 30 degrees.
A winter weather advisory remains in effect for the bulk of the area until 7 p.m. Monday.
Update: 10:10 a.m.: N.C. Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Gordon said troopers have responded to about 100 collisions in the greater Raleigh area since about 5 a.m.
He said the vast majority of the wrecks have been damage only. Gordon said road conditions deteriorated rapidly just before the busiest commute hours.
"If you don't have to get out, please don't. I was on I-40 and observed someone spinning out of control because they were driving too fast for the conditions," he said. "The weather will get better eventually, and that will help us clean up these wrecks."
Gordon offered the following simple tips for those who must drive:
- Slow down
- Don't follow too closely
- Expect the unexpected
- If you're in a wreck, get as far away from it as possible
Durham County deputies have responded to 21 wrecks Monday morning, with three of those incidents involving minor injuries.
Update: 10 a.m.: Despite the lack of consistent precipitation, road conditions are still an issue across the bulk of the area thanks to cold temperatures.
"We're watching some little bursts of precipitation marching along the U.S. Highway 1 corridor," WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner said. "We've seen some heavier bands of frozen precipitation moving through. It's not over by any means."
Gardner said sleet is likely in many of the bands of precipitation that are moving through.
Some of the sleet that fell earlier stuck to the roads very quickly. Temperatures remain in the upper 20s and won't climb above freezing until the afternoon.
Update: 9:40 a.m.: WRAL's continuous coverage of the winter weather will continue at 10 a.m. The Doctors will shift to WRAL2.
Update: 9:12 a.m.: Good news out of Cumberland County, where Interstate 95 North has reopened at Exit 58 (I-295).
Update: 9 a.m.: Heavy sleet is falling in parts of Wake and Durham counties, and it's quickly covering primary and secondary roads.
"We're into the 9 a.m. hour now, but road conditions aren't improving all that quickly. Four-wheel drive vehicles are having trouble this morning, too, according to several reports I've received on Twitter," WRAL's Brian Shrader said.
Update: 8:30 a.m.: WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner says temperatures will be just below freezing at noon Monday, meaning slick conditions could continue to be an issue for several more hours.
"We'll climb into the mid-30s this afternoon, but it's going to take quite a bit of time to get there," she said. "The good news is that much warmer weather is on the way for the rest of the week."
Wrecks continue to be reported on interstates and on primary roads in Raleigh, including Gorman Street near I-40 and on Poole Road.
South of the Triangle, authorities in Fayetteville closed Andrews Road due to icy conditions. The road was closed between Ramsey Street and McArthur Road.
Update: 7:55 a.m.: A tow truck is on the scene of a wreck on U.S. Highway 264 near Knightdale. The wreck involved a tractor-trailer and at least three vehicles.
No serious injuries were reported in the wreck, but major delays were being reported as a result of it. Drivers should avoid the area if possible.
Authorities have also shut down northbound lanes of I-95 at Exit 58 (I-295) in Cumberland County. Drivers should take Exit 58 to U.S. 13 and turn left on Wade-Stedman Road to return to I-95 at Exit 61.
Update: 7:35 a.m.: Triangle-area roads have seen plenty of problems this morning, but the winter weather is also affecting flights at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Officials said airlines have canceled about 70 flights so far thanks to poor weather conditions.Travelers are encouraged to check with their individual airlines for their flight status.
Update: 7:20 a.m.: WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner says precipitation will begin to lighten up across the region through the middle of the morning as the latest winter weather system begins to push out of the state.
"Remember, even if our precipitation comes to an end we will continue to have problems until we get above freezing," she said. "It may be 1 or 2 p.m. before temperatures get into the mid-30s."
Patchy freezing rain is still falling in parts of Wake, Durham and Johnston counties.
Update: 7 a.m.: Road conditions could remain treacherous throughout the morning hours due to cold temperatures, WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner said.
"We may not climb past freezing until this afternoon, so this ice is going nowhere fast," she said.
WRAL's Brian Shrader said ramps and bridges continue to be an issue.
"Traffic is at a standstill in many places," he said.
Update: 6:35 a.m.: State Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Gordon says there are wrecks "all over the Triangle area."
"Overpasses and bridges are a particular problem area," Gordon says. "Our call volume has really increased in the last hour. We really need people to stay home if they can."
Gordon says anyone involved in a wreck should get as far away from their vehicle as possible to prevent any pedestrian-related wrecks as other people may slide off the roads near a wreck.
Update: 6:20 a.m.: Roads across the Triangle continue to be slick as freezing rain and drizzle continues to fall. Dozens of accidents have been reported in Wake, Nash and Durham counties.
"Freezing rain is coming down across a large part of the area, and it's having a big impact on the roads," WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner said. "Those problems will continue through the morning, because temperatures won't be above freezing until after lunchtime."
WRAL's Brian Shrader said many bridges have been closed because they are covered in ice.
"We've seen dozens of vehicles spin out on slick bridges," he said. "The ramp from U.S. 264 westbound to I-440 eastbound is closed. We're also seeing problems in Cary. If you can, stay home this morning."
WRAL's Julia Sims says snow has changed over to freezing rain in Person County, also creating slick conditions in and around Roxboro.
During the afternoon, temperatures will climb into the mid-30s.
Update: 6:10 a.m.: Authorities have shut down I-440 at Wade Avenue in Raleigh due to a weather-related wreck involving three vehicles. Several incidents are being reported across the area as freezing rain and snow continues to fall.
Authorities also shut down U.S. Highway 64 east near mile marker 469 in Rocky Mount.
No major injuries have been reported.
"It's a mess in spots around the Triangle right now. We've had crews putting down brine over the weekend, and we've a full force of crews in since overnight treating roads with sand and salt. It's going to take time to get roads back to normal," DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau said. "Bridges and overpasses will be particular problem spots this morning."
Temperatures below freezing will continue to make road conditions hazardous through the morning hours.
Update: 5:45 a.m.: Freezing rain and wintry precipitation is starting to create slick conditions across parts of northern Wake County and to the north and west in Durham and Person counties.
Freezing rain began falling in Raleigh shortly after 5 a.m., and several issues were being reported shortly after.
State DOT officials said salt and sand trucks were out to treat highways and primary roads, and they urged drivers to stay off the roads if possible.
A wreck on Interstate 440 near Wade Avenue closed at least one lane of the highway.
"You just want to stay home this morning," WRAL's Elizabeth Gardner. "Road conditions will improve later, but it won't be until lunchtime."
Update: 5:10 a.m.: A wide range of wintry precipitation is falling across parts of the area. Parts of Raleigh are seeing a mix of sleet and freezing rain, while areas in Durham and points north are seeing snow.
Update: 4:45 a.m.: Areas along and north of the Interstate 85 corridor are seeing much more precipitation, and roads are snow covered in spots, WRAL's Brian Shrader says.
"Roads are dry in a lot of our southern counties, but that's not the case where we've seen snow overnight. Roxboro, parts of Durham and other northern areas could be seeing travel issues all morning," he said.
WRAL reporter Julia Sims captured the scene in Roxboro early Monday morning as snow covered streets in downtown.
Forecast: Wintry precipitation began falling in parts of central North Carolina Sunday night, and snow, sleet and freezing rain could create hazardous driving conditions during the Monday morning commute.
Winter weather advisories are in effect for most counties in the Triangle, including Wake, Cumberland, Johnston and Durham counties through 7 p.m.
Northwestern counties, including Person and Orange, are under a winter storm warning until 9 p.m. Monday.
Roxboro saw as much as 2 inches of snow overnight, and snow was reported in Durham as well. See more photos of the snowfall.
"We're seeing the bulk of the snow north and west of Raleigh right now, but of course that could change through the morning, "WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader said.
Because of the recent cold weather, any frozen precipitation that does fall could quickly create issues on the roads once it begins to fall.
"We could go from roads that are perfectly clear to literally an ice rink in a matter of minutes," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
In preparation for the winter weather, the state Department of Transportation began brining roads Saturday, dumping more than 100,000 gallons of brine in Wake County alone. Brine is most effective when it's down on the road prior to precipitation.
Plows were out early Monday morning in Person County after the snow began to fall.
Warmer air will build into the region through the day on Monday, and conditions should improve on the area's roads by the afternoon hours. Rainfall will stay in the forecast later Monday and into Tuesday.