Local News

Snow Turns To Sleet As Road Conditions Deteriorate

Posted January 26, 2004

— A wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain fell across the Triangle area throughout Sunday, causing driving conditions to deteriorate and schools to cancel Monday classes.

The Raleigh-Durham area had anywhere from 2 to 4 inches of accumulation of sleet and snow Sunday, with more expected Sunday night. A second band of precipitation was expected to hit the area Monday.

By 4:30 p.m. Sunday, all the snow had turned to sleet in the area. By that time, Gov. Mike Easley had issued a

state of emergency.

Durham city offices will be closed Monday, while Wake County offices will be open Monday.

In addition,

the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke University, North Carolina Central University and North Carolina State University canceled Monday's classes.

Seymour Johnson Air Force base also will be closed Monday. Only mission-essential personnel should report to work.

Most of the problems were traffic-related. There were no power outages reported.

Wake County public schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro public schools, Durham public schools, Wilson County public schools, Moore County public schools, Person County public schools, Orange County public schools, Wayne County public schools and Vance County public schools will be closed Monday. Check here for a

complete list of closings and delays.

Chapel Hill Transit ended its bus service and Shared Ride service at 5 p.m. Sunday. The Chapel Hill Web site is experiencing technical difficulties and may not be available with current information until later on Monday, so people should call

(919) 968-2769

for updated bus schedule information.

The weather was a factor in a

fatal accident in Robeson County

in which two people were killed.

A multi-vehicle accident that involved a tractor-trailer and three cars occurred Sunday night in Johnston County just before 11, when the tractor-trailer overturned two miles south of the 1-40/1-95 intersection. There were no injuries reported.

The weather also played a part in an accident in Cumberland County that blocked northbound Interstate 95 at exit 62 for a long time. A tractor-trailer slid off the road, shutting down all northbound lanes of traffic.

A 12-car pileup was reported at the Halifax-Nash county line. Another multiple-car accident happened on I-40 near the Wake-Johnston county line, and an 11-car accident occurred on I-40 and Jones Sausage Road in Wake County.

Meanwhile, the state Highway Patrol reported 628 weather-related traffic accidents or collisions in the Triangle area after 10 a.m. -- and more than 2,000 calls for service. The SHP total did not include accidents responded to by Raleigh and Durham police.

Because there were so many accidents in such a short period of time, the Highway Patrol spent the day playing catchup. Many stranded drivers waited hours in the cold on the side of the road to get help from a trooper.

Air travel in the area also was affected. Officials at RDU gave a conservative estimate of 60 inbound and outbound flights canceled by Sunday night. Several people spent the night in the airport, some forced to wait 24 hours for another flight to their destination.

People interested in particular flights were encouraged to call the airport for updated flight information.

The snow and sleet "can wreak havoc on the area," said Richard Jones, a weather service meteorologist in Raleigh. "It's a dangerous situation."

The winter weather arrived as a storm system approaching North Carolina from the southwest with cold, dry air combined with moist air entering the state from the south.

Progress Energy and Duke Power, the state's two major electric utilities, said they have mobilized crews to prepare for possible prepare work should lines fall under frozen precipitation.

Raleigh-based Progress said it had 1,400 workers ready for repair work.

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