Wet snow pelts Triangle, sticks to roads
Posted February 19, 2012
Updated February 20, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. — Hard, wet snow fell across central North Carolina Sunday, sticking to the ground, which was freshly warmed after temperatures reached the mid 60s earlier this weekend.
"This is one of those interesting situations where snow had to come down hard to begin accumulating because the ground was so warm," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel.
Cold air moved into the area from the north Sunday, combining with moisture associated with an upper level disturbance from the Gulf Coast, bringing rain throughout the area for much of afternoon before producing the first snowfall the Triangle has seen all winter.
Flurries started falling in Durham, Orange, Granville and Person counties shortly before 5 p.m. The wintry weather system moved east throughout the evening and began sending snowfall to areas in Wake County and further south Sunday night, Fishel said. Your photos: Feb. 19, 2012, snowfall
Another round of flurry patches to the north and west were expected to sprinkle snow across the area into the early morning hours.
"There is also another disturbance in the upper atmosphere, which is going to come into play in the wee hours of the morning, which could even extend the snow a little bit longer," Fishel said.
There is a 73 percent chance that Raleigh will see 1 to 2 inches before the system leaves the area, said meteorologist Nate Johnson.
But he said areas to the north and east of the Capitol City will see the most accumulation.
"It looks like the areas along and north of Interstate 85 see the best bet of seeing a good bit of accumulation before this is all said and done," Johnson said. "If course there will likely be some slick spots out there, so please be careful if you're out on the roads."
At least four cars were involved in a wreck on Interstate 40 at Harrison Avenue, slowing traffic to a crawl. There was no word on injuries as of 11 p.m., but several cars were slipping and sliding on the slick roads, making for nerve-wracking travel.
Robert Hauser, 18, said he swerved to avoid a wreck on I-40 and wound up hitting a guardrail.
"I was at my girlfriend's house until my parents were like, 'No sleeping over there. You've got to come home,'" he said. "I kind of knew something like this would happen, but it's mostly just scary. It rattles you up a little, but, you know, I'm okay."
Snowfall was especially heavy in Person County, where people said they were enjoying the late dose of winter.
"I'm happy to see the snow. I haven't had any snow all year," said Demetrise Gooch, of Roxboro. "I'm going to enjoy it and make a snowman if I get enough."
Emergency crews had their hands full responding to at least 40 calls from drivers needing assistance across the county, but no injuries had been reported as of 11 p.m.
"It's just slush on the road, which is ideal for pushing. So, we're going to start pushing (wrecked cars), and then, if it does start to freeze up overnight, we may start to put out the salt," said maintenance engineer Anthony Talley. "I think we'll make it through this one okay."
Areas from the Raleigh region north and west were under a winter weather advisory until 9 a.m. Monday.
Wake County schools will open on a two-hour delay due to anticipated poor road conditions. Only year-round calendar students will be affected; traditional calendar schools are closed for a teacher work day.
Granville, Edgecombe, Chatham, Franklin and Durham County schools are also delaying by two hours. Mecklenburg County schools in Virginia will be closed Monday.