Weather

Storm warnings lifted across NC

Posted February 16, 2015
Updated February 17, 2015

10:48 a.m. Tuesday: The National Weather Service lifted winter storm warnings across central North Carolina just before 11 a.m., after almost 20 hours of snow, sleet and freezing rain. 

9:05: a.m. Tuesday: Classes have been canceled at Duke University, North Carolina State University in Raleigh and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Classes are scheduled to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday at NC State and at 8 a.m. Wednesday at UNC-Chapel Hill. 

8:30 a.m. Tuesday: Gov. Pat McCrory issued a warning Tuesday morning that road conditions could continue to be treacherous for several days despite wintry precipitation moving out of the state. 

During an 8:30 a.m. news conference in Raleigh, McCrory said now is not the time to "spike a football" in regard to the way the state has responded to the winter storm. Since 6 p.m. Monday, McCrory said state Highway Patrol officials have responded to 2,100 calls for service. One weather-related traffic death has been reported; a 19-year-old female died in a wreck in Hertford County. 

"If you don't have to be out, stay off the roads today. Stay home and enjoy your family," he said. 

Crews will continue to treat roads throughout the day Tuesday, but McCrory said there "is not much" anyone can do to combat black ice, which is expected to be an issue for several days due to continued cold temperatures.

7:49 a.m. Tuesday: Power outage issues continue in parts of Cumberland and Sampson counties. WRAL reporter Gilbert Baez says crews are working to repair downed lines at the corner of Stoney Point Road and Mesquite Drive. Thousands of customers in the Sandhills are without power due to freezing rain and ice accumulation on trees and lines.

7:25 a.m. Tuesday: Gov. Pat McCrory will provide the latest details about the winter weather and how the state is responding. Watch McCrory's remarks live on WRAL.com at 8:30 a.m.

7:15 a.m. Tuesday: Because the freezing rain is beginning to move out of the Triangle, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner says there likely won't be widespread power outages in the Triangle. Areas south of the Triangle, in Cumberland and Sampson counties, are still dealing with thousands of outages. 

"By the time we get into the 8 a.m. hour, we should start to see the precipitation come to an end," she said.

6:44 a.m. Tuesday: Precipitation is beginning to move out of the Triangle from west to east, but what is left has transitioned largely to freezing rain, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. The additional icing could create even more hazardous road conditions as ice accumulates on the snow and sleet that fell overnight.

6:30 a.m. Tuesday: Plows are out across the Triangle trying to clear snow and sleet, according to DOT spokesman Mike Charbonneau. As some of those roads are cleared, other crews will spread salt and sand on primary roads throughout the rest of the day. 

"If you don't have to be on the roads this morning, stay off of them. Let the crews do their work," he said.

6:15 a.m. Tuesday: More flights are being canceled at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, but officials say it's not because of sleet-covered runways. Due to the weather, many airlines kept planes at other airports. About 60 flights have been canceled between 6 a.m. and noon, but some of the planes could begin arriving at RDU around 8 a.m. 

Officials said travelers should check with their specific airlines for flight information, RDU spokesperson Mindy Hamlin said. 

6:10 a.m. Tuesday: Although precipitation is beginning to come to an end from west to east, much of what is falling in the Triangle now is freezing rain, which could lead to deteriorating road conditions. 

"Again, just stay put," WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader said. 

5:30 a.m. Tuesday: Officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport said more than 30 outgoing flights were canceled as of 5 a.m. Six flights are scheduled to depart after 6 a.m., and officials said they expect flight operations to begin returning to normal at about 11 a.m.

5:20 a.m. Tuesday: WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner says precipitation – a mixture of sleet and freezing rain – is beginning to taper off from west to east. 

"We'll continue to see this trend between now and sunrise, as the bulk of this system moves out of the area," she said. "It is leaving behind very, very cold air."

After initially being on a delay, Cumberland County Schools announced at 5:25 a.m. Tuesday that they would be closed due to widespread power outages. 

4:35 a.m. Tuesday: Mike Charbonneau, a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation, said crews will be ramping up around daybreak to try and clear the Triangle's roads. 

"We put down brine before the storm arrived, and this morning they are trying to get out there with plows to clear the snow they can," he said. "Then they will get out there with salt and sand, but the major concern for us will the cold temperatures. It could be dangerous on the roads for several days."

WRAL reporter Gilbert Beaz says road conditions are also dangerous in Cumberland County. 

"I was shocked at how bad the roads were when I got out on the roads this morning," he said. "If you do not have to come out in Cumberland and Sampson counties, don't."

Fort Bragg announced early Tuesday that service members will report to their units at noon. Civilians should report at 1 p.m. Fort Bragg schools are now closed for Tuesday.

4:05 a.m. Tuesday: WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader says many of the Triangle's roads are "ice covered," including main roads and highways. 

"Just stay put this morning, because we're going to have some issues on the roads as we go through the morning," he said. 

Some power outages had been reported in Hoke, Cumberland and Sampson counties early Tuesday. The southern counties in the area saw more freezing rain overnight, while the bulk of the Triangle saw more sleet.

3:45 a.m. Tuesday: WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner echoes the sentiments expressed by Greg Fishel two hours ago. Much of the Triangle saw more sleet than freezing rain overnight. 

"We can expect to see the precipitation tapering off between 5 and 7 a.m. from west to east," Gardner said. "We could continue to see sleet or some spotty freezing drizzle through about daybreak. We're still cold though, so the roads will be quite treacherous this morning."

The bulk of central and eastern North Carolina remains under a winter storm warning until 9 a.m. Temperatures are in the upper teens across much of the area and aren't expected to climb to near freezing until Tuesday afternoon.

2:07 a.m. Tuesday: WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel says precipitation is expected across the region for another hour.

"It's fair to say at this point that we're looking at more sleet than freezing rain, meaning the power outage threat is decreasing," he said. "It stayed just cold enough these last few thousand feet to keep the sleet going. It's going to save us from a major problem in regard to ice on trees and power lines."

1:41 a.m. Tuesday: Duke Energy's outage map showed only small, scattered outages across  Central and Eastern North Carolina. Moore County had the most customers without power -- 2,543 of about 40,000 customers were experiencing problems. 

11:27 p.m. Monday: "We're really getting into the meat of the system now," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.

Light snow is falling near the North Carolina-Virginia border, but the rest of the viewing area should expect sleet and freezing rain overnight.

WRAL's Cullen Browder in Drive5 reported that Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh "is just a sheet of ice. We expect conditions to continue to worsen."

"The more sleet we see, the less likelihood we'll have widespread power outages," said WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze.

Morning lows will be 23 on Tuesday, 20 on Wednesday, 5 on Thursday and 0 on Friday. Thursday and Friday's morning lows are expected to break records set in 1979. 

11:22 p.m.: The GoTriangle Regional Information Center will open at 7 a.m. to handle transit related calls for Triangle Transit, Capital Area Transit, Chapel Hill Transit, Durham Area Transit and Cary Transit – 919.485.RIDE (7433). 

11:10 p.m.: Holly Springs' Tuesday town council meeting has been canceled due to icy conditions. Town facilities, including offices and parks and recreation facilities, will open at noon Tuesday.

10:55 p.m.: Depending on road conditions, DATA service is expected to start at 8 a.m. Tuesday. The first trip will leave from Durham Station at 8:30 a.m.

Some transit travel tips from Triangle Transit:

  • Dress appropriately for the weather.
  • Customers are strongly advised to plan for extra travel time and to check gotriangle.org before traveling.
  • Some bus routes, especially those located on hills or narrow streets, may not be able to cover all stops.
  • Please use extreme caution when boarding and departing vehicles during inclement weather

10:49 p.m.: Triangle Transit will not operate early Tuesday morning. Depending on the roads, the below routes are expected to start their normal schedules starting at 11 a.m.:

Route 100 at Hillsborough/Brooks to Raleigh; 11:10 a.m. from RDU to Regional Transit Center

Route 300 from Cary

Route 400 from UNC and Durham Station

Route 700 from Durham Station

Route 800 from Southpoint to the Regional Transit Center; 11:09 a.m. at Student Stores to UNC Hospital

Route 805 from UNC

The below regional routes will run on a normal schedule starting at noon: Routes 102, 105, 201, 300, 301, 305, 311, 405 and 805

Express Routes, shuttles and Paratransit service provided by T-Linx will run on a normal schedule starting at noon

10:39 p.m.: A winter storm warning has been issued for Cumberland, Hoke and Sampson counties until noon Tuesday.

10:30 p.m.:

WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze:

Freezing rain and sleet is falling across central NC and is expected to continue until 3 a.m. Tuesday, which is when the precipitation will move out of the area, but icy roads will remain. Up to a ½ inch of ice is expected in the Triangle. Freezing rain is expected south of the Triangle and snow is anticipated in northern areas.

WRAL reporter Cullen Browder in Drive5 in Raleigh:

“The roads have gotten progressively worse,” Browder said while reporting from a vehicle wreck at Interstate 40 East and Rock Quarry Road. He said the roads being pretreated with brine has helped prevent the roads from being icier.

“The potential for power outages is the major concern tonight,” he said, adding that Duke Energy crews are ready to go and that extended outages are possible. “Stay away from downed power lines and be patient.”

WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson in the WRAL traffic center:

Traffic is light across Triangle and vehicles are driving slow.

“if you have to be out and about, definitely take it easy,” he said. “So far we’re not seeing a whole lot of accidents on the major streets, but we are on the side roads.”

Johnson warned that freezing rain can be deceptive.

“Take it easy outside,” he said. “Stay home if you absolutely can.”

WRAL reporter Adam Owens in Drive5 in downtown Durham:

“You can’t tell where the road is for the most part except for the curbs on either side,” he said. “It’s white over, the roads in downtown Durham.”

WRAL reporter Ken Smith in Rocky Mount:

“We are getting a steady dose of freezing rain all night long,” he said. “Ice has already been a problem out here tonight.”

While traffic has been light, there have been a few wrecks.

“if you ain’t got to be out here, then you don’t need to be out here,” said Alvin Blunt, whose child was involved in a minor accident after hitting a patch of ice.

WRAL reporter Candace Sweat in Drive5 in Fayetteville:

“Even though Fayetteville hasn’t received what we’ve seen in Raleigh, the roads are still slick,” she said while reporting from a two vehicle accident at Bragg Boulevard and Carroll Street. “One minute it's freezing rain and another minute it’s just rain. (Freezing rain) looks like rain and it sounds like rain, but when you step outside you see some freezing spots.” 

9:57 p.m.: Eastbound Interstate 40 near Hammond Road in Raleigh has reopened.

9:42 p.m.: Traffic is delayed on eastbound Interstate 40 near Hammond Road in Raleigh, and drivers are advised to avoid the area if possible.

9:30 p.m.: The eastbound lanes of Interstate 40 are shut down near Hammond Road in Raleigh. There are unconfirmed reports of more than one accident.

9:02 p.m.:The amount of ice accumulation will depend on how much precipitation falls between the hours of 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

The estimate of between a quarter-inch and a half-inch could lean toward the lower end if the precipitation lessens. But Fishel said it's too soon to tell.

"If precipitation falls at the rate 0f .05-.10"/hour, then significant ice accumulations will still occur. Anything less than that, and we will have dodged a huge bullet," he said.

8:07 p.m.: Gov. Pat McCrory is urging everyone to stay off the roads overnight. He issued the following statement:

"We are very fortunate so far that many drivers heeded our warnings and got off the roads early, but we are nowhere near out of the woods yet. The prediction totals are increasing for many areas and that could very well continue to change as the storm progresses so please stay off the roads if you possibly can until conditions improve.”

7:53 p.m.: The Triangle, Fayetteville and most of the viewing area is in a lull in terms of precipitation, WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson said. However, that will not last.

"By 9 p.m., a second, more potent batch of precipitation will come," he said. "Most of that will be in the form of sleet or freezing rain."

7:08 p.m.: Warren County schools will close Tuesday. See all closings and delays

6:51 p.m.: Wake County public schools will close Tuesday, officials said. Athletic and extracurricular activities are also canceled. Employees should not report to work.

6:30 p.m.: Durham County and Person County schools will close Tuesday, officials announced. See all closings and delays.

6:20 p.m.: Chatham County schools will close Tuesday, officials announced.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said a wide swath across the central part of the state holds the greatest potential for a quarter-inch to a half-inch of ice accumulation. The weather should intensify through the evening before tapering off.

"Everything of substance should be pretty much over by 7 o'clock (in the morning)," he said.

6 p.m.: Orange, Halifax and Harnett County schools will close Tuesday, officials announced. See all closings and delays.

5:50 p.m.: WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said mainly sleet is falling in Raleigh, and more freezing rain is expected through the evening. The air near the ground will be in the 20s, so the rain that falls will freeze.

"Stay inside," Maze said. "It will be very cold and the roads won't be all that great."

5:42 p.m.: Johnston County has opened two shelters at Clayton High School, 600 S. Fayetteville St., and Smithfield-Selma Senior High School, 700 Booker Dairy Road in Smithfield.

5:32 p.m.: Officials with the Town of Cary are urging residents to head home and stay off the roads.

“Please use this time while the roads are still relatively clear to a get safe place for the evening,” Scott Hecht, Public Works director, said. “Forecasts are trending toward the flakes turning to sleet and freezing rain, at which point we believe may lead to slick spots, downed limbs and power lines.”

5:27 p.m.: Snow is coming down faster in Durham now, and the field at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park is getting covered. WRAL meteorologist said the transition from snow to sleet is starting in Pittsboro and Raleigh. That's an indication that warming is taking place in the air, he said.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, light snow is falling. More than 100 flights have been canceled.

5:16 p.m.: Fort Bragg announced the post and schools will have a delayed opening Tuesday. Schools will operate on a two-hour delayed; staff and faculty will be contacted with more information.

5 p.m.: Chapel Hill-Carborro City Schools will be closed for students Tuesday, with an optional work day for teachers. See all closings and delays.

4:35 p.m.: Flurries and light snow have begun falling in parts of Raleigh, Durham and Orange County, and sleet was reported in the Sandhills.

WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said freezing rain is expected to follow and the evening wears on. Freezing rain presents the biggest danger because it will fall on frozen ground, creating ice.

“I think the primary event, especially around the Triangle, is going to be freezing rain, which could be crippling for the area,” he said. “You’re not going to go anywhere tomorrow. If you think you’re going to work, going to school, you’re not.”

5 Comments

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  • Mark Hewes Feb 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Bye bye.

  • Wayne Rossignol Feb 16, 2015
    user avatar

    After watching the broadcast this evening, I wonder if there was any other news worthy of airing? Seriously folk, you spent the entire 1/2 hour reporting the weather???? Five minutes would have sufficed. Viewing the road way from a moving vehicle. You treat this topic like it was a presidential assassination. Give me a break... going to start watching another news channel. Totally ludicrous.

  • Wayne Rossignol Feb 16, 2015
    user avatar

    After watching the broadcast this evening, I wonder if there was any other news worthy of airing? Seriously folk, you spent the entire 1/2 hour reporting the weather???? Five minutes would have sufficed. Viewing the road way from a moving vehicle. You treat this topic like it was a presidential assassination. Give me a break... going to start watching another news channel. Totally ludicrous.

  • Jeff Pridgen Feb 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Sleet and freezing rain here in Clayton. Roads are already a sheet of ice! Stay home everyone if possible!

  • Melvin Denis Feb 16, 2015
    user avatar

    What ever happened to global warming this week?