Local News

Monday Night Brings Freezing Rain; Many Schools Close Tuesday

Posted January 26, 2004

— A second blast of winter weather hit North Carolina Monday night, prompting schools to close for Tuesday. Gov. Mike Easley asked residents to stay off the roads, and 1,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen were placed on alert.

Closings:

Four of the major school systems -- Wake County, Durham, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Cumberland County -- in the WRAL viewing area have announced closings for Tuesday.

In addition, Chatham County, Edgecombe County, Fort Bragg, Franklin County, Granville County, Halifax County, Harnett County, Hoke County, Johnston County, Lee County, Moore County, Nash-Rocky Mount, Orange County, Person County, Roanoke Rapids, Sampson County, Vance County, Warren County, Wayne County, Weldon County and Wilson County schools will be closed Tuesday.

Click here for complete list.

Many of the colleges and universities in the area were closed Monday. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials announced that they will be open on Tuesday.

Moore County government offices will open at noon Tuesday. The Moore County court system announced that it will also be closed on Tuesday.

Wake County offices

will be open on Tuesday with some delays.

Fort Bragg will open for normal duty hours at noon Tuesday. Key and mission essential personnel will also report for duty at noon.

Easley Urges Motorists To Stay Off Roads

State Highway Patrol troopers responded to more than 3,000 traffic accident calls across the state Sunday and 880 since midnight. Of those weather-related accidents, 187 were reported by the Highway Patrol in the Triangle area.

Easley has ordered additional troopers on duty to respond to the high numbers of traffic incidents. At this time, the Highway Patrol has confirmed four weather-related fatalities in wrecks it investigated. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has confirmed two additional fatalities due to the storm.

"We are expecting freezing rain to blanket most of the state this afternoon and evening," said Easley. "People need to stay home and off the roads. Driving conditions are already unsafe due to the weekend storm, and this additional ice will make travel extremely dangerous."

The Forecast:

According to the National Weather Service, the heaviest accumulations of freezing rain Monday night were along a line from Laurinburg in the Sandhills to Fayetteville, and northeast through Goldsboro in eastern North Carolina. Freezing rain began to fall shortly after noon around Laurinburg.

Coastal counties were expected to dodge the freezing rain. Piedmont counties between interstates 85 and 95 were forecast to get some freezing rain. Heavy rain was reported in Brunswick County.

Winter storm warnings -- meaning additional freezing precipitation is expected -- are forecast until Tuesday morning in the Triangle.

Travel/Road Conditions:

RDU International airport was open Monday night, but many flights were canceled. Other airlines decided to fly on a case-by-case basis.

Travelers are reminded to

call their airline

before coming to the airport.

Fayetteville Regional Airport is closed until further notice. All flights are canceled until the temperature improves to above freezing.

The Triangle Transit Authority offered an abbreviated schedule on Monday. Officials said they will continue to monitor road and weather conditions throughout the evening and issue service and schedule changes, if necessary, early Tuesday.

Emergency crews

were not immune to the weather problems on the roads. A fire engine and an ambulance in Fayetteville had a tough time responding to an emergency call Monday afternoon.

The Highway Patrol is discouraging travel unless absolutely necessary. All interstates are open; however they are snow and ice covered. Most roadways east of Interstate 95 are snow and ice covered. Motorists should use extreme caution while traveling.

Interstate 95 in Johnston County, between exits 87 and 83, reopened Monday after the Highway Patrol deemed it too dangerous to drive overnight. The road was closed in both directions for several hours overnight due to ice.

State Of Emergency:

Gov. Mike Easley

declared a state of emergency

, allowing him to activate the North Carolina National Guard.

Fifty soldiers on state active duty have been joined by 950 more.

Three command posts are staffed in Charlotte, Durham and Washington. The NCNG Emergency Operations Center on Reedy Creek Road in Raleigh is fully staffed.

Fifty NCNG-owned generators and 100 airmen are on alert in Stanly County for possible power-generation missions should power failures warrant their use.

Seven helicopters, two UH-60 Blackhawks and five OH-58s are on alert in Morrisville and Salisbury for use in aerial survey or search and rescue operations if needed.

The N.C. Department of Transportation worked around-the-clock across the state with more than 6,000 maintenance workers and more than 2,775 pieces of equipment responding to the storm.

DOT maintenance crews

work to clear interstates first, then major U.S. and N.C. routes -- and then secondary roads. The department has the capacity to hold more than 100,000 tons of salt for highway, bridge and road treatments. During an average year, the department usually uses about 50,000 tons of salt.

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