Latest: Power outage numbers dropping; RDU runways fully operational
Posted January 23, 2016
After more than 100,000 people in North Carolina lost power due to winter weather over the past two days, Duke Energy officials announced that outage numbers were cut to 59,479 by Saturday at 11 p.m.
According to Duke Energy's outage map, 23,131 customers in Wake County, and 15,289 in Johnston County, were without power.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport opened all runways and taxiways Saturday night, airport officials said.
RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said most departures are coming to a close for the night.
Although the airport is open, many flights will remain canceled due to travel disruptions at major hubs.
Officials said customers should call their airline or visit the airport's website for updates on flights.
UPDATE 6:55 p.m.: An accident on I-40 west in Durham County has shut down three lanes at mile marker 282 (Page Road).
UPDATE 6:45 p.m.: Duke Energy announced that 80,950 customers in North Carolina remain without power, including 34,203 in Wake County. Customers without power in Johnston County have dropped to 18,095.
UPDATE 6:00 p.m.: A Duke Energy spokesperson told WRAL News that 38,000 customers are without power in Wake County. Johnston County customers without power now total 20,000, and Harnett County customer outages have fallen to 8,000.
UPDATE 5:55 p.m.: City of Raleigh officials announced that all parks, recreation and cultural resources programs will be closed Sunday.
UPDATE 4:45 p.m.: Red Cross officials said the organization responded to assist four families who became homeless following house fires in the last 24 hours.
UPDATE 3:40 p.m.: Orange County officials said the county's public libraries and parks will be closed on Sunday due to inclement weather.
UPDATE 3:00 p.m.: Officials said there have been 173 collisions reported and 234 calls for service in Wake County since midnight. Statewide, there have been 559 collisions and 1,031 calls for service.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: GoRaleigh bus services announced it will stop running earlier than normal on Saturday. Buses on routes 1 and 19 will stop services after 7:15 p.m, routes 5 and 21 will stop following 7:30 p.m. departures and all other routes will cease at 7 p.m.
The R-Line will also stop running at 7 p.m. Normal GoRaleigh operations will begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday.
UPDATE: 1:45 p.m.: North Carolina DOT officials say New Bern Avenue could remain closed at Trawick Road in Raleigh through noon Sunday.
Authorities shut down the road early Saturday due to downed power lines.
UPDATE: 1:10 p.m.: Authorities have reopened I-95 in Johnston County after it was shut down due to a wreck involving a tractor-trailer at mile marker 98.
UPDATE: 12:25 p.m.: Authorities shut down Interstate 95 near mile marker 98 in Johnston County late Saturday morning after a Ford Mustang slammed into a tractor-trailer.
Authorities said crews were working to clear a separate incident when the Mustang hit the guardrail and crashed into the semi. Two people inside the car were trapped for about 25 minutes, but they were not seriously hurt, officials said.
The highway is closed at that location. It's unclear when it will reopen.
UPDATE: 12:18 p.m.: The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for the bulk of central and eastern North Carolina from 6 p.m. Saturday through noon Sunday.
Forecasters said residents should be prepared for widespread black ice on Sunday morning thanks to overnight temperatures in the low 40s.
Strong winds will be a concern Saturday afternoon and evening and could gust to as high as 30 to 40 mph.
UPDATE: 11:08 a.m.: Duke Energy told McCrory they have 6,000 people working to restore power, including 3,000 who were brought in from out of state to handle the high volume of work.
UPDATE: 11:05 a.m.: Gov. Pat McCrory warned North Carolina residents that a lot of accidents and deaths can still happen after the storm has passed.
"This isn't over," McCrory said in a news conference on Saturday morning.
The N.C. State Highway Patrol said there were 2,000 crashes across the state since the storm began on Wednesday, including 406 collisions on Saturday alone.
UPDATE: 10:55 a.m.: Two more people died in car crashes related to winter weather, according to the N.C. State Highway Patrol, bringing the total number of fatalities since Wednesday to six.
A 19-year-old girl died in Hickory, and a 6-year-old was killed in a wreck on Interstate 77 in Iredell County.
UPDATE: 10:49 a.m.: A shift in the predicted path of the winter storm that barreled through North Carolina forced Duke Power to shift the resources it had deployed in anticipation.
So far, thousands of power crews have restored electricity to 228,000 people, though roughly 148,000 people are still without power.
UPDATE: 10:43 a.m.: A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper was purposefully hit by the driver of an ATV in Rowan County, said Gov. Pat McCrory.
The trooper fired shots at the suspect, McCrory said, but was injured in the collision. Officials are searching for the suspect involved. The trooper is in stable condition, McCrory said.
UPDATE: 9:40 a.m.: The ramp from Interstate 85 to Duke Street in Durham has reopened after a tractor-trailer was towed away.
The ramp was closed for about three hours.
UPDATE: 9:27 a.m.: WRAL's Amanda Lamb continues to see ice covered road around Wake County.
"I've seen more people coming out in the last couple of hours, and I've seen a lot of them getting stuck," she said. "Give yourself ample time if you must head out."
UPDATE: 8:46 a.m.: North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers have responded to more than 1,500 collisions in the state in the last 24 hours, including more than 400 in the Triangle, Sgt. Michael Baker tells WRAL News.
Since midnight, troopers have responded to nearly 300 collisions in the state.
"The roads have frozen over, and highways and major roads are still covered in ice," Baker said. "If you must go out, use extreme caution. We're encouraging people to stay home, hunker down and not travel."
Baker said North Carolina Department of Transportation crews are working to spread salt and sand on area roads.
UPDATE: 8:32 a.m.: Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks says power crews "have a lot of work ahead of them" on Saturday because of thousands of power outages in the Triangle.
"It's not uncommon to see power outages increase during ice storms," he said. "We're seeing a lot of blown transformers."
Brooks said Duke Energy is moving resources from the western part of the state to help crews already working to restore power. Despite that, he said restoring power to the entire area will "take time."
As of 8:30, about 135,000 Duke Energy customers were without power in North Carolina. More than 60,000 of those outages are in Wake County, and another 28,000 are in the dark in Johnston County. More than 11,000 are without power in Harnett County.
UPDATE: 8:25 a.m.: WRAL's Julia Sims is reporting from a familiar scene in Durham, where a stuck tractor-trailer is blocking a ramp from Interstate 85 to Duke Street.
Carrying a heavy load, the truck got stuck at about 6 a.m. and slid into a ditch off the ramp.
UPDATE: 8 a.m.: WRAL's Brian Shrader says North Carolina Department of Transportation crews will work to clear roads in the following order:
- Interstates, four-lane divided primary roads
- Roads essential to moving traffic
- Secondary roads, neighborhood streets
UPDATE: 7:30 a.m.: WRAL Elizabeth Gardner says temperatures in the mid-20s overnight Saturday "froze everything solid."
Additional snow flurries are possible during the day on Saturday as moisture wraps around as the storm system pushes off to the north and east, but additional accumulations won't be significant.
Temperatures will be in the 20s through the morning hours Saturday before climbing into the low 30s during the afternoon.
Winds will gust to 30 mph Saturday afternoon, which could cause additional power outages. The bulk of the area is under a winter storm warning through 6 p.m.
UPDATE: 7 a.m.: Raleigh-Durham International Airport says some flights are getting out this morning. Despite that, the airport will be on "limited operations" throughout the day, according to a post by RDU on Twitter. Officials say travelers should check with their airlines for flight status.
UPDATE: 6:46 a.m.: WRAL reporter Julia Sims says roads in Durham are "nothing but white." Sims says the Durham Freeway was ice covered and had piles of hard packed snow and ice.
"I was really surprised by the amount of traffic we saw as we came into Durham," she said. "Durham police says they aren't seeing any major issues, but they did warn that the roads are icy. Within the last hour or so, we've had reported of tractor trailers crashing on Interstate 85."
UPDATE: 6:40 a.m.: Numerous traffic issues are being reported across central and eastern North Carolina, from Fayetteville to Raleigh to Durham.
WRAL traffic anchor Brian Shrader said anyone who can stay at home today should.
"We're going to continue to see problems all day long because of the cold," he said. "Crews are out trying to treat interstates and main roads, but many are still ice covered. Secondary and neighborhood roads could be even worse. Stay put today if you can."
UPDATE: 6:15 a.m.: Numerous roads in the Triangle are closed due to downed power lines and trees. New Bern Avenue is closed in both directions near Trawick Road in Raleigh, and N.C. Highway 50 is shut down in Garner between Rand Road and Indian Creek Trail due to a downed tree.
Wintry precipitation that fell Friday caused slick roads and thousands of power outages across the Triangle on Friday, and five deaths were attributed to the conditions, according to the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
The first three came Wednesday in single-car accidents where drivers lost control of their vehicles on icy roads.
Only one death was recorded Friday as the bulk of the snow and ice moved across the state. The passenger in a pickup truck headed south on Interstate 95 in Johnston County was killed when that vehicle slid into a jack-knifed tractor-trailer just before 8:30 a.m.
The driver of the pickup was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.
State Highway Patrol Sgt. Michael Baker said a 4-year-old boy died Friday afternoon after the pickup truck carrying his family on Interstate 77 spun out of control and crashed. Baker says the crash happened just before 2 p.m. in Iredell County near Troutman.
Officials urged drivers to remain home Saturday if possible.
About 150,000 Duke Energy customers were without power early Saturday, with more than 60,000 of them in Wake County.