Wintry mix covering roads across Sandhills region
Posted February 12
UPDATE: 3:55 p.m.: Much of the precipitation that falls through the rest of the afternoon and evening will be a wintry mix, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
"We're going to have to watch the ice build up on trees and power lines," he said. "Power outages could be an issue throughout the night."
UPDATE: 3:10 p.m.: Snow has come to an end in many parts of south-central North Carolina, but it has been replaced by a frozen mix that includes sleet and freezing rain. WRAL reporter Gilbert Baez describe the roadways as a "bed of ice."
UPDATE: 3:00 p.m.: Schools in Harnett, Lee and Moore counties are the latest in the Sandhills to announce that they will be closed Thursday due to weather.
UPDATE: 2:45 p.m.: An emergency shelter has opened at Smith Recreation Center, at 1520 Slater Avenue. No pets will be allowed inside the shelter.
UPDATE: 2:15 p.m.: Many streets in the downtown Fayetteville area are clearing slowly as people make their way home, according to Gilbert Baez. A layer of snow is also becoming covered by frozen precipitation, which has been falling for the last hour or so.
A Fayetteville police cruiser became stuck in one part of the city.
UPDATE: 2:00 p.m.: Cumberland County schools will be closed for students and staff on Thursday due to winter weather, officials announced.
UPDATE: 1:50 p.m.: Wintry mix is continuing to fall across much of Cumberland, Sampson and Wayne counties, and it is advancing quickly into Harnett and Johnston counties.
UPDATE: 1:35 p.m.: Snow and ice are bringing traffic in much of south-central North Carolina to a standstill, according to WRAL reporter Gilbert Baez.
Fayetteville police have responded to several small accidents, and numerous roads in and around Fayetteville and Hope Mills are closed.
UPDATE: 1:10 p.m.: Snow is mixing with sleet in Fayetteville, according to reporter Gilbert Baez. That transition is expected to continue over the next several hours as precipitation moves slowly to the north and east.
Ice accumulation greater than .25 of an inch will begin to cause issues for tree limbs, WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said.
UPDATE: 12:45 p.m.: Snow will transition to a wintry mix across the southern portion of the Sandhills between 1 and 2 p.m., making travel conditions more hazardous throughout the rest of the afternoon and evening.
Communities close to the South Carolina border could end up seeing .5 of an inch to .75 of an inch of ice accumulation, enough to cause widespread power outages due to downed tree limbs and power lines.
Snow creates travel headaches
Heavy snow was beginning to cause travel issues in south-central North Carolina Wednesday afternoon, particularly in Moore, Hoke and Cumberland counties.
Snow moved into the southernmost portion of the Sandhills before 9 a.m., and within two hours many of the area's roads were covered in fresh snow.
Temperatures were in the mid-20s across much of the state at 11:30 a.m., and daytime highs will struggle to reach 32 degrees.
"It's colder today than it was yesterday, when Fayetteville got 3 to 4 inches of snow," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "Once it started this morning, it only took about 30 minutes for it to cover the roads. It's falling much heavier today."
Fayetteville police asked citizens to stay off of the roads in the area if possible.
"Weather conditions have deteriorated very quickly," Lt. Todd Joyce said in a statement. "Emergency personnel have encountered several areas that have become impassable, and road closures have occurred."
Police recommended that anyone involved in a wreck should exchange information and file a report with police once conditions improve.
How much will fall?
Snow is expected to begin changing over to sleet and freezing rain during the afternoon areas in the southern half of the state, but the timing of the change is still unclear.
Ice accumulation will likely have the biggest impact on the southern counties, ranging from .5 of an inch to .75 of an inch. In the Triangle, most places will likely see .25 of an inch to .5 of an inch.
“Anything greater than a quarter of an inch can cause power outages due to ice accumulation on power lines,” WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. “The National Weather Service is saying this could truly be a historic ice storm in terms of impact.”
Emergency officials prepared to respond
In Moore County, Southern Middle School in Aberdeen will open at 2 p.m. Pets will be allowed at the Aberdeen shelter.
Duke Energy is preparing for widespread outages across the state. On Tuesday, 150 workers from the Midwest were brought to Greensboro to prepare of the arrival of Wednesday's storm.
"Our primary concern at this point in time are power outages due to the freezing rain and ice, in addition to difficult road conditions," McCrory said.
Mixed precipitation will continue overnight before slacking off early Thursday, but another round of snowfall could hit the area midday Thursday as the low pressure system pulls out of the state.