Published: 2015-02-18 04:30:00
Updated: 2015-02-19 05:39:21
Posted February 18, 2015
Updated February 19, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — A winter storm that pummeled the region earlier this week packed a second punch Wednesday with a burst of snow that ushered bone-chilling air into the region.
Snow fell furiously across North Carolina for several hours late Wednesday afternoon and into evening from a band of precipitation that moved from west to east. Durham and Raleigh saw flakes fly by 3:30 p.m., and the snow shifted east of the Triangle toward Rocky Mount and Wilson by 6 p.m.
By 8 p.m., the band pushed off toward the coast. Behind the system, some of the coldest air in years pushed into the region.
Overnight lows are expected to reach 11 degrees Thursday morning and 3 degrees on Friday. Thursday's high will be 17 degrees, and the mercury will struggle to rise to 24 degrees Friday.
"We entered into the deep freeze overnight," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "And the temperatures will hold steady during the day because the cold air is continuing to filter into the area."
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for most of central North Carolina – including Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham and Wilson counties – until 9 a.m. Friday because of dangerous wind chills. The breeze could make wind chill temperatures feel like single digits throughout the morning on Thursday.
Many school systems made the decision to close Thursday because of the bitter cold, including Durham, Orange, Johnston, Nash, Wake and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools. See the complete list of closings and delays.
"The moisture that's left from this evening's snow, we're hoping most of that dries before the deep freeze gets here," Maze said. "If not, then there could be really big black ice issues in the morning."
The North Carolina Department of Transportation urged drivers to stay off the roads and to exercise extreme caution following a wreck that closed lane of I-95 North just across the Virginia State line.
A wind chill advisory remains in effect from midnight until 9 a.m. Friday. Maze said winds could gust up to 40 mph, and wind chills could range from zero to minus 15 degrees.
Frostbite is a possibility for anyone with prolonged exposure to the elements. WRAL health expert Dr. Allen Mask explains the danger.
The blast of snow Wednesday followed a winter storm Monday that left much of the state encrusted in a thin layer of ice. Crews with the North Carolina Department of Transportation were back on the roads during the day to continue clearing the leftover ice and snow and retreat surfaces that had frozen again overnight. But many drivers heeded the warning to stay off potentially slick roads, and no serious accidents were reported through the morning rush Wednesday.
As bright sun earlier in the day helped melt some of the remnants of the winter storm, residents prepared themselves for the second round snow. Stores reported selling out of space and kerosene heaters, and firewood sellers were doing brisk business.
Space heaters have been hard to find because of the demand created in the Northeast, where winter has been worse.
"Once a week is about the only time we can get them," said Eddie Garner, manager of the Ace Hardware in Hope Mills. The store received a shipment of heaters Wednesday morning, and all but one were sold by the afternoon.
The City of Raleigh activated its white flag system to indicate that shelters are open because overnight temperatures are below freezing.
"Due to extreme cold weather conditions this week, it is so important that we let people know that there are shelters available," said Frank Lawrence, manager of the south Wilmington Street Center. "All are welcome to come get warm in our shelters.
All men seeking shelter should first contact the South Wilmington Street Center for referral. Women with children should contact The Salvation Army. Women with or without children may contact the Raleigh Rescue Mission.
Maze said there is some good news on the weather front: "This is brutal cold for the next 48 hours, and the weekend warms up. All this will be behind us."