Winter storm moves out of NC
Posted February 12, 2014
Updated February 13, 2014
A winter storm system that was expected to wreak further havoc on central North Carolina and the Triangle moved out of North Carolina into Virginia Tuesday night, leaving behind snow and ice that will potentially cause problems on area roads for day to come.
"We really got off very easy this afternoon," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "We could have been in a situation where we could have had a few hours of moderate to heavy snow with significant additional accumulation and additional travel problems. None of that materialized."
Forecasters had predicted up to 4 inches of precipitation in the area – ranging from a trace to an inch in Fayetteville and 2 to 3 inches in the Triangle.
Not much accumulated Thursday, but Roxboro and areas near the North Carolina-Virginia border saw at least 1.5 inches before the system retreated to Virginia Thursday evening.
Still, the National Weather Service had issued a Winter Weather Advisory until 10 a.m. Friday for nearly three-quarters of the state, reminding drivers of black ice and snow-covered roadways.
Temperatures were expected to fall below freezing around 10 p.m. Thursday with lows in the mid-30s by Friday morning.
By mid-morning, temperatures will rise above the freezing mark, and significant melting of ice and snow should occur.
UPDATE: 4:25 p.m. – "Things are definitely winding down across North Carolina," says WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. "The potential for this to be a significant additional snowfall has gone by the wayside in all honesty."
The areas near the North Carolina-Virginia border have seen some additional accumulation but not in the range that it appeared that it might be earlier Thursday.
By 4 p.m., the only places that have any heavy activity are near the border, and it's rapidly retreating to the north and east.
Most areas are still above the freezing mark with the exception of Roxboro, which is at 32 degrees.
"We really don't expect much of a drop here over the next several hours, so that means there will be an opportunity to get out and clear snow and slush away before it gets below freezing later tonight," Fishel says.
"It's been a tough couple of days, but it could have been a lot worse this afternoon," he adds. "We actually got off pretty easy with this particular part of it."
UPDATE: 3:30 p.m. – A 2- to 4-inch snowfall is probably out of the question in Raleigh, WRAL Chief Meteorologist says, but that might not be the case in areas north of Wake County and into southern Virginia.
"Tonight, we do want to watch out, once the precipitation ends, where temperatures will be above freezing in some spots," Fishel said. "You might want to clear off any slush or precipitation by 9 p.m. to avoid it refreezing overnight when temperatures dip below freezing."
Snow and ice weighing down on limbs and power lines are also a concern.
There's also more school closings for Friday that have been announced in the last hour, including Wake County Public Schools, Durham Public Schools and Moore County Schools.
Schools in Orange and Lee counties have also been canceled. North Carolina State University has also canceled Friday classes.
UPDATE: 2:30 p.m. – Durham, Roxboro, Warrenton and other areas north of the Triangle could see heavier snowfall than areas farther to the south, like Raleigh.
Snow was falling moderately in Fayetteville and in other areas east of Raleigh, including Princeton.
Unlike Thursday, when the temperature was in the mid-20s, the snow wasn't sticking to roadways. That's partially because of the higher temperatures – which were at or around the freezing mark.
The bigger concern comes at nightfall when the temperatures will dip into the 20s and freeze what precipitation has accumulated.
The good news is that by 5 p.m., the winter storm will have made its way through the Triangle, and should be out of central North Carolina all together by 8 p.m.
There's already been some school closings for Friday, including school systems in Orange and Lee counties. North Carolina State University has also canceled classes on Friday. Check out all the closings and delays being reported to find out if your school or work is affected Friday.
State and local emergency and law enforcement officials continue to urge people to heed their advice and, if possible, stay off the roads.
UPDATE: 1:15 p.m. – Snow's back in the area with some changeover from rain to snow in downtown Raleigh. The eastern part of the WRAL viewing area is seeing a bit of patchy light rain and is changing over to sleet in some areas.
"We might start to see the roads covered up, but our temperatures aren't as cold as yesterday," WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. "So, that might help keep a lot of this from sticking to the roads, unlike it did yesterday."
Back to the west, the snow is falling heavily. To the east, there's rain along Interstate 95 right now, but that's expected to change over shortly.
Temperatures ranged in the low to mid-30s, warming up as you head east. But as the snow moves into the area, those temperatures will drop to around the freezing mark.
It's all supposed to be over by dinnertime, but another disturbance will move into the area late Friday into early Saturday. It will start as rain and possibly end with some light snow.
"But that shouldn't be much of an issue for us," Gardner said.
UPDATE: 12:30 p.m. – Snow is falling in Orange County, quickly covering roads in some areas. There's also reports of big flakes in Carthage and Aberdeen.
By 2 p.m., Meteorologist Mike Maze says, the snow will be hitting the area hard, with some of the heaviest falling north of the Triangle into southern Virginia.
"If it comes down heavy for quite some time, there could be some totals that exceed 4 to 5 inches up toward the Virginia line," he said.
Fayetteville and areas east could see anywhere from a trace to an inch of snowfall. One to 3 inches will potentially fall in Raleigh, and 3 to 4 inches is expected farther north.
By 8 p.m., the storm's expected to have moved out of the area. With clearing skies, temperatures will likely fall into the 20s.
"We're expecting a hard freeze, so everything that's slush now will be solid in the morning."
There's some warming ahead. Highs on Friday and over the weekend will reach the 40s. Lows, however, will dip below freezing, so there's a chance of re-freezing.
UPDATE: Noon – Snow is falling in Fayetteville, Hope Mills, Laurinburg, Siler City and Sanford and other parts of Chatham and Moore counties.
Sleet and freezing rain has been reported just west of Raleigh, and there's been a wintry mix in Durham.
Temperatures are right at or just above the 32-degree freezing mark for the Triangle and central North Carolina areas.
At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, both runways are open again for commercial flights, which are set to resume this afternoon – many on reduced schedules. Passengers are urged to check on their flight statuses before leaving for the airport.
UPDATE 11:45 a.m. – After a short break, sleet, freezing rain and snow is falling again.
Sleet and freezing rain was reported at the western edge of the Triangle. Light liquid precipitation will change quickly to sleet and freezing rain.
A very heavy band of snow along Interstate 77 from Charlotte to Winston-Salem is moving eastward this afternoon. There are reports of snow falling very heavily in Charlotte, and that could continue to be heavy snow as it moves in the Triangle.
It may begin as sleet and then change to snow – just the opposite of what happened Monday. It could bring an additional, significant amount of accumulation today in the Triangle.
Meanwhile, state officials said at a news conference that 90,000 to 100,000 customers across the state are without power and that those numbers could change.
About 3,000 utility workers are on standby ready to restore power, when necessary.
WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner says a lot of heavy, wet snow now in the area today will pile on top of snow and ice that's already on limbs and power lines, weighing them down further.
"We may have more power outages as we head into the afternoon and evening," she said.
State officials also said that there have been three weather-related deaths – two form crashes and one from a falling branch.
The North Carolina State Highway Patrol has also responded to 1,900 accidents.
UPDATE: 10:30 a.m. – Snow, sleet and freezing precipitation continues to push toward central North Carolina, and it should arrive in earnest by lunchtime.
Areas south of the Triangle could see an additional inch of snow, and the Triangle could get 2 to 4 inches. Spots close to the Virginia border could end up with an additional 4 to 5 inches of snow.
UPDATE: 8:37 a.m. – Power outages continue to be an issue in Wake County and surrounding areas, but numbers have fallen in the last 45 minutes. Still, more than 14,000 Duke Energy customers are without power in Wake County.
More than 1,000 people are also without power in Harnett and Hoke counties.
Snowfall on the back edge of the system is advancing through the Triad at 8:30 a.m., slowly making its way toward the central part of the state. It should arrive in the Triangle by lunchtime, and areas in the northern half of the viewing area have the best chance to see significant accumulations.
UPDATE: 7:20 a.m. – Scattered power outages continue to be reported across the Triangle. More than 25,000 Duke Energy customers in Wake County were without power at 7:25 a.m.
UPDATE: 6:30 a.m. – Snowfall totals will range widely during the afternoon on Thursday, with spots in the southern Triangle seeing a trace to 1 inch of additional accumulation and areas north of the Triangle seeing up to 4 additional inches.
UPDATE: 6 a.m. – Although more snow is coming during the afternoon as the winter storm moves out, it may not have the same impact on the roads due to warmer temperatures, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
Simple advice: Stay home
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation say the best thing people can do is to stay off the roads, if possible.
"Even though the sun has come up, it doesn't mean the roads will be safe," Mike Charbonneau, a spokesman for North Carolina Department of Transportation, said.
Some melting could begin Friday, as high temperatures will likely climb into the low 40s under partly cloudy skies during the afternoon. The forecast is similar on Saturday, although afternoon temperatures could remain in the low 40s.
Overnight lows will be below freezing each of the next several nights, allowing wet surfaces to re-freeze each night.