Winter storm leaves behind snow, ice and Thursday school closings
Posted January 29
UPDATE 8:19 p.m.: Wake County schools are closed tomorrow.
UPDATE 7:53 p.m.: Durham County schools are closed tomorrow.
“When roads were evaluated tonight, many areas appeared to be in great shape,” said Scott Denton, Durham Public Schools' executive director for auxiliary services. “There were also areas where packed snow cover remained on secondary roads. When making a decision, we have to consider our entire county: how conditions are from Bahama to Southpoint. There simply were too many areas -- particularly on those secondary roads -- that were unsafe, which led to our decision.”
UPDATE 7:20 p.m.: Nearly 300 troops returning from Afghanistan and heading to Cherry Point Marine Corp Air Station will be stuck at Raleigh-Durham International Airport due to slick roads.
UPDATE 6 p.m.: Vance County Schools are closed tomorrow.
UPDATE 5:52 p.m.: Moore, Lee, and Chatham county schools are closed tomorrow.
UPDATE 5:18 p.m.: Granville, Harnett, Orange and Warren county schools are closed Thursday.
UPDATE 4:52 p.m.: The state Department of Transportation released updated numbers on their statewide snow storm efforts:
2,706 DOT employees
1,474 DOT trucks
217 DOT graders
30,694 tons of salt
6,733 tons of salt/sand mix
476 contract trucks/graders
Hoke County and Mecklenburg County, Va. schools are closed Thursday.
UPDATE 4:46 p.m.: The N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences will open at noon Thursday.
Hoke County Schools are closed Thursday.
UPDATE 4:42 p.m.: Raleigh-Durham International Airport says there will be some cancellations and delays throughout the evening but most carriers are operating on a near-normal schedule. Both runways and all taxiways are open. Airport roadways are treated but some slick spots may remain. Airport officials advise those scheduled to fly today to confirm their flight before travelling to the airport.
Person County Schools are closed Thursday.
UPDATE 4:17 p.m.: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are closed Thursday.
Multiple school districts have also reported closings for Thursday: Cumberland, Sampson, Clinton City, Johnston, Halifax, Franklin, Wilson, Edgecombe and Nash.
Snow, sleet and frigid temperatures were combining to create hazardous travel conditions across much of central and eastern North Carolina Wednesday morning, the result of a highly anticipated winter storm that pushed off the coast shortly after sunrise.
Icy roads have already led school systems in Cumberland, Johnston, Edgecombe and Nash counties to close Thursday. N.C. State University has delayed classes until 10 a.m. Thursday.
State Department of Transportation crews were out in force during the early morning hours to scrape and treat highways and primary roads, but at 11 a.m., many spots in the Triangle were still dealing with packed snow and slick spots.
Triangle Transit and buses in Raleigh, Durham and Cary were running on their regular schedule Wednesday morning, conditions permitting. Each transit authority issued warnings to riders to anticipate delays and possible detours where roads are the worst. FAST services in Fayetteville were canceled for the day, officials said.
Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday he was pleased with the response of state and local officials once snow began falling across much of the state.
"This has been a tough storm for North Carolina. We had a lot more black ice than anticipated," he said. "We've adapted, and our team has done a good job. We want to encourage everyone to be safe. If you have to get out on the roads, use your seat belt."
No major accidents were reported during the morning commute, but several cars did slide off roadways and area highways.
A sedan crashed into a guard rail on Interstate 440 at Six Forks Road at about 7:30 a.m., and an SVU wrecked at about 7:40 a.m. on Interstate 85 at Guess Road in Durham.
Durham County officials responded to about 45 wrecks between midnight and 10 a.m., but no serious injuries had been reported, officials said. Raleigh police received about 65 calls during the same period.
The North Carolina Highway Patrol said Wednesday that the weather was a factor Tuesday in separate traffic accidents in Surry County that killed two people.
A passenger died Tuesday afternoon when a woman lost control of her pickup truck on a road covered with snow and ice. The truck went down an embankment and hit a tree.
About the same time, two vehicles collided on N.C. 104 near Mount Airy. A passenger in a minivan involved in the crash died, officials said.
State Highway Patrol officials responded to about 600 calls between midnight and 11 a.m. Wednesday, with the majority of those being weather-related.
"We had a zero fatality goal, but sadly we've already had two fatalities with accidents in Surry County," he said. "Our hearts and prayers are with the families that were impacted. We want to make sure we have no more weather-related accidents."
Road crews will continue to treat primary and secondary roads throughout the day Wednesday, McCrory said, in an effort to make Thursday's commute as smooth as possible.
Snowfall totals were heaviest north and east of the Triangle, but areas in and around Wake County saw at least 2 to 3 inches of accumulation in many spots. Areas that saw some sleet fall before snow – Harnett, Cumberland, Sampson and Wayne counties – could also see more slick spots on the roads Wednesday.
Significant icing could also create dangerous conditions in Wilmington and around much of the coast.
At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, crews completely cleared runways, but about half of the scheduled flights out of the airport Wednesday had been canceled.
The state Department of Transportation deployed nearly 500 vehicles Monday and Tuesday to spread 1.7 million gallons of salt brine on North Carolina's roads, and Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said Wednesday that work to clear roads would be an ongoing process.
"We've had 2,500 employees on the roads in the last 24 hours – 1,331 trucks, 173 graders." Tata said. "Ninety-one counties are impacted by this storm. In the last day they've spread 17,000 tons of sand and salt. The focus has been on primary roads, interstates and main U.S. routes. We're hoping to have those clear Wednesday afternoon and then shift to secondary roads."
Tata said it could take another 24 to 36 hours for many secondary roads across the area to be cleared.
Most area school systems, including Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Orange, Johnston and Chapel-Hill Carrboro, will be closed on Wednesday due to slick roads. North Carolina State University and North Carolina Central University also canceled classes Wednesday.
A winter storm warning from the National Weather Service is in effect for much of central and eastern North Carolina until midday Wednesday, and daytime highs in the upper 20s will do little to melt what is on the roads.
Travelers are asked not to call 911 or the state Highway Patrol for road conditions so the lines can remain clear for emergency calls.
Driving safely in the snow:
The State Highway Patrol advised drivers to avoid being on the roads if possible.
If you must drive in ice and snow, take these precautions:
- Make sure your battery and cellphone are fully charged
- Fill your gas tank
- Pack bottled water and a blanket in the trunk
While on the road, slow down when roads are slick. Other driving tips:
- Increase your following distance. You should allow about four car lengths for every 10 mph
- Drive slower than the posted speed limit
- Don't use cruise control
- Stay in cleared lanes, or follow in the tracks of other vehicles where possible
- Don't try to change lanes
If your car starts to skid:
- Let your foot off the gas
- Don't slam on the brakes
- Steer into the skid
- Get to a safe place
- If you get stuck, turn on your flashers so rescue and emergency crews can find and help you.