Warming sun solves road woes

Posted March 3, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The National Weather Service dropped its winter weather advisory Tuesday morning after conditions warmed enough to reduce the threat of black ice on roads.

Temperatures in the teens plus frozen runoff from Monday's snowstorm combined to create slick spots on the roads Tuesday morning, some of them causing serious problems. More than 400 schools and businesses delayed opening to allow road crews to treat the highways and streets or closed altogether.

The state's traffic alert system reported multiple crashes on Interstate 95 northbound in Wilson County around 6 a.m. Northbound traffic was blocked for a time at mile marker 120. It was was mostly cleared by 7 a.m., The state Department of Transportation's automated road-monitoring system still showed northbound traffic averaging 40 mph around the city of Wilson at 7:30.

In Chapel Hill, authorities reported black ice on:

  • Weaver Dairy Road near the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
  • Old Durham Road near the intersection with Fordham Boulevard
  • Intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Hillsborough Street


WRAL Weather team WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast

Temperatures 20 degrees below normal for this time of year did not help the road situation, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. Secondary roads, access ramps to major roads and bridges were the places ice was most likely to form.

Not all ice problems were on the roads, either. One reader in Mebane said she had to chisel ice from the bottom of her garage door after melting snow from her car tires ran across the garage floor overnight and froze the door to the floor.

In Wake County, a skeleton crew worked overnight and spread a sand-salt mixture on problem areas, officials said. Sand provides traction, and salt melts ice.

Chapel Hill officials said that all of the town's streets were passable Monday, but transit services could experience some delays due to road conditions Tuesday. Town workers spread 55 tons of salt on roadways Monday, officials said.

The Neuse River rose above flood stage in Johnston County Monday night. The river could cause minor flooding through Wednesday morning. At flood stage, the Neuse reaches the base of a 1 million-gallon water treatment plant in Smithfield.

Temperatures turn around by mid-week

An Arctic air mass will stick around North Carolina for at least one more day, but after it moves out, the cold weather will make a dramatic turnaround.

Temperatures will struggle to rise more than a few degrees above freezing Tuesday, and then "clear skies, light winds and a little leftover snow could make for a very cold night," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.

Wednesday will still be a little chilly, with a high in the upper 40s, but then the Arctic air moves out completely – and warm, southwesterly breezes flow in.

"The really good stuff gets here on Thursday as we get into the 60s and then 70s Friday and Saturday," Fishel said.

"It's going to be like a completely different season from Monday to Friday," Gardner said.

Snow driving tips

The Highway Patrol offered these tips to help drivers navigate slick roads.

  • Clear your vehicle's windows and mirrors.
  • Reduce your speed. Driving at the regular speed limit will reduce your ability to control the car if you begin to slide.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles.
  • Bridges and overpasses accumulate ice first. Approach them with extreme caution, and do not apply your brakes while on the bridge.
  • If you do begin to slide, take your foot off the gas, and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes as that will cause further loss of control of the car.
  • Come to a complete stop or yield the right-of-way at intersections where traffic lights are out. Treat this situation as a four-way stop.
  • If you have a cellular phone, take it with you. You can call the Highway Patrol statewide by dialing *HP (*47) or call the local county emergency center by dialing 911.

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