ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Be careful on the roads Tuesday morning. Overnight lows in the teens caused melted snow and ice to refreeze.
Road conditions improved amid higher temperatures Monday in many areas of eastern North Carolina hit by snow and ice over the holiday weekend.
The winter weather caused some problems across some of the roadways in North Carolina. Traffic on Highway 401 near the Harnett County/Wake County line is moving again after being closed for nearly two hours after several tractor-trailers were stuck along the roadway.
Six cars on Auburn Knightdale Road near Garner were involved in an accident. There is no word on any injuries. The road was so icy that rescue crews had to walk to the scene of the accident.
Traffic on Interstate 95 in Nash and Wilson counties picked up again, one day after the storm caused backups for several miles and prompted stranded motorists to spend the night in hotel lobbies and a shelter. Still, hundreds of traffic accidents were reported and transportation officials warned motorists to show caution, particularly on secondary roads.
Sgt. Everett Clendenin with the state Highway Patrol in Raleigh said authorities had received reports of 278 accidents from midnight until about 2:30 p.m. Monday in Wake and 13 surrounding counties. There were no reports of fatalities.
"Most are fender-benders, no injuries, typically one car in a ditch," Clendenin said, adding that the bulk of those reported accidents occurred on secondary roads in Edgecombe, Johnston, Nash, Wake and Wilson counties.
Clendenin said major highways have been largely cleared of snow and ice, though there were troublesome ice patches on I-95 in Nash County. That -- and the number of travelers who are leaving after filling hotel rooms in Rocky Mount and other nearby communities -- led to heavy traffic and some backups on the East Coast's major artery.
"We've had a struggle out there on 95 since last night," Clendenin said. "It's just slow going out there until they get these ice spots cleared up."
The Highway Patrol warned motorists to show caution with the possibility of melted ice refreezing in dropping temperatures late Monday and early Tuesday.
The state's electric cooperatives reported a peak of 14,000 outages, and had about 2,100 customers without power Monday morning in Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson, and Scotland counties. But only scattered outages remained by the afternoon, spokeswoman Jane Pritchard said.
Progress Energy customers without power in Robeson and Scotland counties were back online by 6 a.m., spokeswoman Julie Hans said.
The wintry weather arrived as people traveled through the state on their way home from Christmas holidays. An estimated 1.5 million people were expected to travel in the state this week.
The weather and road conditions weren't very forgiving for travelers and rescuers alike. Robert Shackleford of Shackleford Wrecker and Rollback of Wilson received a steady stream of calls from stranded motorists who had skidded off the road. But at one point, Shackleford got his wrecker stuck on U.S. 264 and had to call his other wrecker to pull him out.
In addition, the cold weather led to a "significant increase" in vehicle thefts, according to the Fayetteville Police Department. The main reason, police said, is the number of people warming up their cars then leaving them unattended in their driveways or parking lots.