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Messy roads linger with warmer weather ahead

Posted January 25
Updated January 26

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— State and local departments of transportation responded to the weekend wintry weather with hundreds of hours on the clock covering thousands of miles of road in tons of salt and sand, and some secondary roads across Wake County were still slick Monday night, prompting delays and closures for area schools.

Robert Sowell has lived in his home for 30 years and knows that when winter weather hits, his driveway will be one of the last to melt.

“I decided I would just shovel off that top soft layer and it’ll melt a little bit faster tomorrow,” he said.

The fact that many roads around the Triangle were still frozen is something school officials have to take into consideration when deciding whether to cancel or delay classes.

Jeff Nash with Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools said the district decided on a three-hour delay Tuesday because they’ve seen progress, but not quite enough in some areas. The delay buys time to make an even more informed decision.

“We did tell our parents and our staff that we are on a three-hour delay and we’re going to reevaluate first thing in the morning and if we need to make a different decision based on different conditions tomorrow, we will call them before 8:30 a.m.,” said Nash.

In Wake County, schools were also on a three-hour delay Tuesday. Roughly half of Wake County’s 157,000 students ride the bus and spokeswoman Lisa Luten said the goal is to keep all students and parents safe, not just the ones near major highways.

“Our buses travel on neighborhood streets, primarily. They’re not traveling on the main roadways, so we need to make sure that not only are the main roads clear, but our neighborhood streets are safe for our buses to travel on," Luten said.

Periods of sun on Sunday and Monday and temperatures pushing toward 50 degrees went a long way toward melting what remained of ice, sleet and snow that accumulated over a 36-hour period.

Carolyn Lekavich and her daughter, Venia, were able to get out of their Trinity Park home in Durham for the first time since Friday. They spent about 20 minutes scraping ice off her vehicle.

Catherine Fraile had a friend shovel her car out, but she was still wary of testing the roads.

"I'm from Pennsylvania, so I'm used to a lot of snow, but usually it doesn’t melt and refreeze like this," she said. "The ice is a little scary."

Irene Silverblatt spent the weekend indoors as well, except to allow her dog, Mick Jagger, out to get some satisfaction.

"If the ice melts on Green Street, it will be my first day driving. I couldn’t drive before," she said.

"I'm going to wait for nature to do its course. I'm very fortunate that I can walk to work."

Devon Proudfoot grew impatient indoors and ventured out Monday to find the job of clearing his car was easier than anticipated.

"It hasn’t taken me long as expected because the snow is melting," he said. "It’s just a matter of getting it moving and pushing it off."

The City of Durham planned to keep plows on the road into Tuesday with a goal of clearing all residential streets.

The forecast for the rest of the work week calls for temperatures to stay above freezing, even during the overnight hours. Tuesday's high could reach a balmy 58 degrees.

"Tuesday should feel very nice. We'll be above normal for the first time in a while," said WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson.

After that, wet weather returns, but this time as rain. Wednesday and Thursday are both likely to start out wet, although a wintry mix can't be ruled out for early Thursday, according to WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze.

"This is a case of cold air chasing the rain," Johnson said. "Thursday promises to be a damp and chilly day."

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