Schools close as advisories issued for icy roads

Posted January 31, 2010
Updated February 1, 2010

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— Most public school systems across central North Carolina will be closed Monday due to the lingering snow and icy road conditions.

The winter storm, which swept through North Carolina Friday night and all day Saturday, headed off the Atlantic coast early Sunday. A few flurries were seen overnight, but the wintry precipitation had cleared out.

Still, the National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories until noon Monday for 31 counties across central North Carolina, including the Triangle area and Cumberland County, because of the threat of icy roads.

The snow that began melting Sunday was expected to re-freeze overnight, as temperatures dropped into the teens across the region– and near 10 degrees in counties north of the Triangle, WRAL meteorologist Kim Deaner said.

WRAL Weather team WRAL WeatherCenter Forecast

The melting and re-freezing will occur Monday, Deaner said, before a cold rain moves across the region on Tuesday.

Monday's forecast calls for plenty of sun, and high temperatures will reach about 40 degrees, she said.

"A lot of the sun's energy is going to be used up to melt the snow, so temperatures are going to hang in the upper 30s to around 40," she said.

The low temperatures were a concern for the approximately 26,000 homes and businesses across the state were without power Sunday afternoon, down from 41,650 on Saturday. Duke Energy reported the bulk of the outages, with more than 17,000 outages in Jackson, Macon and Swain counties alone. The company said it expects the power will be restored to its customers no later than 11 p.m. Tuesday.

Roads 'a nightmare'

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials said Wake County roads are "likely to be a nightmare" Monday morning. Surrounding counties will likely see the same conditions.

Wake County road crews spent Sunday focusing their attention on Interstate 40, Interstate 440 and Interstate 540, and they worked on portions of U.S. Highway 1, U.S. Highway 64 and U.S. Highway 264. They have barely touched secondary roads, DOT spokesman Steve Halsey said.

Raleigh road crews were clearing and salting bridges across the city, followed by major thoroughfares and Capital Area Transit routes. After that, the city will begin clearing major residential and connector streets, officials said.

Sunday's sunny skies will melt a little bit of the snow and ice from Saturday's storm, but frigid temperatures overnight will ensure that the white stuff sticks around.

"The thaw (Sunday), as any of us would understand, is going to lead to dangerous conditions once it begins to re-freeze," Gov. Beverly Perdue said in a Sunday afternoon news briefing. "(Roads will) be dangerous in the morning as most of us wake up and go to work."

The governor urged people to "stay home and stay safe" for another day to let road crews continue to keep clearing the roads.

School officials took the message to heart, with Wake, Durham, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston, Franklin and Orange county school systems, among others, announcing they would be closed Monday.

North Carolina State University canceled classes until noon Monday, while the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill won't start classes until 10 a.m. Duke University will hold all classes as scheduled.

State offices will be open Monday, Perdue said, adding that state workers can come in late or take the day off if they feel travel conditions are unsafe. She said, however, that workers would have to make up the missed time.

"I don't want, as the state's governor, anybody taking unnecessary risks trying to get to work, but again, there is no free pass," she said.

Four storm-related deaths reported

At least four deaths over the weekend were attributable to the storm.

Mark Walston, 21, of 1315 Clingman St. in Goldsboro, was walking along U.S. Highway 70 in Wayne County near the Johnston County line when a DOT snowplow struck and killed him at about 6:45 p.m. Saturday. The incident remains under investigation.

An unidentified man in Surry County suffered a fatal heart attack after shoveling snow outside his house.

The Associated Press reported that a Charlotte man also suffered a fatal heart attack while shoveling snow, and a 55-year-old Gastonia man died Saturday night after falling in the snow while taking a nighttime walk in a wooded area near his home.

Snowfall totals varied

Snowfall totals varied widely – from more than 11 inches in Asheville to less than an inch in Manteo. The official tally at RDU was 5 inches on Saturday.

"Some locations in our northern counties did get 10 to 12 inches of snowfall Saturday," WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze said.

Greensboro reported 7 inches, but Fayetteville got only about an inch-and-a-half. At Hyco Lake near Roxboro, a viewer reported 8 inches of snow on the ground. Snow in Warren County totaled 7.5 inches, Roanoke Rapids saw 5 inches, Sanford got 2 inches, and Smithfield got 4.

The National Weather Service off Centennial Parkway in Raleigh reported 5 inches, and WRAL meteorologist Nate Johnson measured about 5 inches in the parking lot at WRAL during the noon hour Saturday.


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