Roads remain icy as winter storm cleanup continues
Posted February 17, 2015
Gov. Pat McCrory urged residents to stay put on Wednesday while crews continue to treat roads still slick from a winter storm that left much of North Carolina encrusted in a thin layer of ice.
A blast of sunshine on Tuesday helped conditions, but the governor warned that extremely cold temperatures in the coming days will pose a continued threat.
"Many of the major highways are greatly improved, but many of the secondary roads throughout the state are still icy and very, very hazardous," he said. "DOT crews will continue to treat these roads, but let me be clear, again, there's not much they can do to treat black ice."
Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said 2,400 employees from his agency have been working to clear ice and snow, and about 80 percent of the major roads are clear.
“That’s a lot of effort all across the state,” he said.
But the ensuing freeze-thaw cycle is a major concern. North Carolina's state of emergency was lifted at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
"I'm very worried about the next two nights," McCrory said. "Check on your neighbors, especially if there's any utility outages."
McCrory warned against using makeshift heating devices like charcoal grills or cookstoves inside dwellings, which can be dangerous, or even fatal.
He also urged viewers to "take responsibility" for outside pets in their care, bringing them inside during the bitter cold temperatures forecast Wednesday night through Friday.
He said the state is assessing shelter needs for tomorrow night, ost school systems in the region – including Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Johnston and Orange county schools – announced closings for Wednesday.
One dead in weather-related crash
McCrory and Tata offered their condolences to the family of a woman who died in a weather-related crash Monday night in Hertford County.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol said Mykayia Quintara Wilder, 19, of Ahoskie, was driving east on N.C. Highway 561 when she lost control on the ice-covered road, crossed the center line and collided with an oncoming car.
A weather-related house fire also claimed the life of a woman in Enfield, authorities said.
While many drivers heeding warnings to stay off the roads Tuesday, those who did venture out kept troopers busy.
The highway patrol responded to 700 calls for service between midnight and noon, with crashes account for about half those calls, authorities said.
McCrory said 63,000 residents were without power at the height of the storm, mostly in Sampson, Robeson, Bladen, Pender and Duplin counties. About 36,000 remained without power early Tuesday afternoon. That nu
Impact varies from north to south
By noon Tuesday, operations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport started returing to normal. Planes began landing and taking off at about 10 a.m., but traffic was backed up by earlier delays and cancellations.
A total of 112 flights in and out of RDU were canceled Tuesday morning, mostly because planes had been moved away from the airport ahead of the storm, spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said. A handful of cancellations were posted as of 3:30 p.m., she said.
Flight Tracker: Any flight, any airport Fayetteville Regional Airport was closed Tuesday morning after runways and taxiways became "solid ice," said Nathan Walls, a city spokesman. "No aircraft will be able to safely operate." The airport reopened and was fully operational at 1:30 p.m.
To the north, the winter storm was more of a snow event, and Interstates 85 and 95 near the Virginia border had been plowed by 8 a.m.
Snow changed over to sleet and freezing rain farther south – across central NC – and those areas saw more ice form on roads and branches. Live traffic cameras
In Durham, city trucks were plowing and spreading salt while sleet continued to fall, and the Durham Area Transit Authority delayed service until 10 a.m.
Plowing was evident on interstates, but primary roads like Glenwood and Hillsborough in Raleigh and All-American Parkway, Skibo and Yadkin in Fayetteville were still covered with snow and ice at 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Both state and local road crews focus first on clearing major roads and then work their way to lesser-used routes. A forecast that keeps temperatures below freezing means leaves little hope that warmth will melt away the ice and snow.
Road crews were spreading salt in reported slick spots around Raleigh, including Donald Ross Drive, New Bern Avenue and Sunnybrook Road.
Wake County offered these tips for those who must travel in icy conditions:
- Have at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Have an emergency kit with you in case you get stuck.
- Drive slowly. Leave three times the distance between other cars than you would during ideal drive conditions.
- Do not brake unless you have to; the best way to slow down is ease off the gas. If you have to brake, brake gently.
- Do not use cruise control.
- If tires skid, take your foot off the gas and steer to the direction of the skid.
The greatest amount of freezing rain fell south of the Triangle.
In the Cumberland County community of Spring Lake, residents woke to widespread power outages where ice clung to power lines.
The public school system there decided just before 5:30 a.m. to cancel school for the day.
Road crews in Cumberland County were focusing on primary roads, including U.S. Highway 401, All-American and MLK parkways.
Closer to the South Carolina border, residents saw mostly rain and roads were more clear.
Buses operate on limited schedule
Triangle Area Transit Authority was operating on a Sunday schedule. Only four routes were running a normal schedule. They are:
Route 100: Starts at 11 a.m. at Hillsborough/Brooks to Raleigh; Starts at 11:10 a.m. at RDU to Regional Transit Center
Route 400: Starts at 11 a.m. from UNC and Durham Station
Route 700: Starts at 11 a.m. from Durham Station
Route 800: Starts at 11:01 a.m. from Southpoint to the Regional Transit Center; Starts 11:09 a.m. at Student Stores to UNC Hospital.
In Durham, bus service didn't begin until 10 a.m. and will run on a Sunday schedule through 7 p.m.
Chapel Hill Transit will only operate the below routes on Wednesday:
- CCX Route
- CPX Route
- FCX Route (serving Friday Center, N.C. Highway 54 Lot, Hedrick Building and all stops along N.C. 54)
- JFX Route
- NS Route
Triangle Transit Route 420, which is operated by Chapel Hill Transit, will not operate on Wednesday.
The below Capital Area Transit operated routes will not run on Wednesday:
- Clayton-Raleigh Express CLX
- Fuquay-Raleigh Express FRX
- Knightdale-Raleigh Express KRX
- Wake Forest-Raieigh Express WRX
- Zebulon-Wendell-Raleigh Express ZWX
The following routes will experience detours on Wednesday:
- Route 301 - Buses may not be able to service Nottingham Drive and Donaldson Drive if road conditions worsen due to freezing weather. If the bus is detoured, these streets will be bypassed using Buck Jones Rd. to Walnut Street (Cary to Raleigh) and Walnut Street to Buck Jones Rd.( Raleigh to Cary).
- Orange-Durham Express - The ODX is scheduled to start at its normal time, but will not service Efland-Cheeks Center and East Washington Street at South 5th Street.
Durham Area Transit Authority plans to operate on a regular schedule on Wednesday.
Black ice threat extends through week
"Ice and snow cover most of the state this morning. Please be safe and stay inside if at all possible this morning," Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata tweeted well before dawn.
Those conditions are expected to hang around while temperatures stay below freezing.
"There is not much we can do to treat black ice," McCrory said.
"Even though the skies are now clearing, the extended low temperatures and black ice will make this very dangerous for several days."