Icy patches produce wrecks, lane closures on Triangle roadways

Posted January 17, 2013
Updated January 18, 2013

— Wet roads left behind by the quick-moving storm system that brought rain and snow to the Triangle were causing major problems Friday morning as temperatures moved closer to freezing during the morning commute. 

Road conditions in Durham, Orange, Person and Granville counties – the areas that saw the most snow accumulation – were slick at 8 a.m., with dozens of fender benders and minor wrecks having been reported. Roadways were also slick in northwest Wake County, with several wrecks being reported on Interstate 440 and Interstate 540. Closings and Delays Closings & Delays

As skies cleared from west to east early Friday, temperatures dropped from the mid-30s to near freezing or even below in spots, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. 

Deputy Paul Sherwin, a public information officer with the Durham County Sheriff's Office, said deputies in Durham County have been dealing wrecks all over the county. 

"We've had them on the interstate, we've had them on surface streets," Sherwin said. "About the time that some of the early morning commuters got out, about 6:30 or 7 a.m., our phones started lighting up." Snow Your Jan. 17 snow photos

State Highway Patrol Sgt. Jeff Gordon said troopers saw some black ice early Friday. 

"Any time you have to travel and you will be going over bridges and overpasses use extra caution," Gordon said. "Slow your speed down. If you have the opportunity and ability to delay going into work, go ahead and do that."

No serious crashes have been reported, but authorities are asking drivers to stay off the roads if possible. Wet roads were partly to blame for two crashes within minutes of each other on South Saunders Street in Raleigh Thursday evening, involving nine cars total. One person was hospitalized with minor injuries, authorities said.

Conditions on the roads should begin improving by mid-morning Friday as temperatures begin climbing through the 30s and the sun gets higher in the sky, Gardner said. 

One to two inches of snow piled up in most parts of the Triangle overnight, with some spots in northern counties seeing closer to 4 inches before the storm tracked off the North Carolina coast overnight, Gardner said.

"We saw just about what we expected," Gardner said. "Spots in and around Roxboro saw about 4 inches, but much of Wake County, which was one of those border counties, only saw a dusting in most spots."

Rain fell throughout the day Thursday, switching to sleet and snow around 8 p.m. in counties north and west of the Triangle and about 9 p.m. in Durham and Chapel Hill. Snow was falling sporadically around Raleigh, and northern parts of Wake County were blanketed in white.

With more than 4 inches of snow, Person County was the hardest hit.

The white stuff isn't expected to last long once the sun rises and the ground warms up on Friday morning. Highs Friday afternoon should top out in the mid-40s.

Sky 5: Friday commute Sky 5: Friday commute

Many school systems, including Wake, Chatham, Halifax, Warren and Moore counties, decided to delay classes for two hours Friday morning in preparation for the slick conditions.

Durham, Vance, Person, Orange, Franklin and Granville County schools will be closed entirely.

Magellan Charter School in Raleigh posted a one-hour delay and Louisburg College will open at 10 a.m.

Fort Bragg will have a two-hour delay Friday, and the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro will be closed to the public.

State Department of Transportation crews hit the roads around 10 p.m. Thursday to spread salt and sand on any problem spots. Crews are also outfitted with plows and spreaders to clear roadways. Sgt. Jeff Gordon Highway patrol: Extra caution needed for Friday morning commute

"When the temperatures get below freezing, bridges and overpasses are going to be the first thing to freeze if we have any moisture," said Wake County maintenance engineer Steve Halsey. "Our guys are going to be focusing on the main roads, mostly the freeways – I-40, 440, 540 – and the secondary roads that may have some bridges, we probably will not have done anything to those roads." 

NCDOT doesn't pre-treat roads in a situation like this, because anything they spread to prevent freezing would simply wash away in the rain.

In Raleigh, city spokeswoman Jayne Kirkpatrick said some workers have been advised that they might be called in to help clear streets for Friday traffic. 

Roxboro snow Roxboro sees bulk of central NC snowfall

In Cary, town officials reduced their "A-Team" staff after the area didn't see much accumulation, saying they had people ready to treat slick roads in time for the morning commute. 

“While we’re fortunate to have dodged any plowing efforts, the roads remain wet and have the potential to be slick as temperatures teeter around freezing,” Cary Public Works Director Scott Hecht said. 

The National Weather Service canceled a winter storm warning for Wake, Durham, Chatham, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Orange, Person, Nash, Lee, Moore, Vance, Warren and several other central North Carolina counties about 2:30 a.m.

Harnett, Johnston, Wilson, Wayne and Edgecombe counties were a few of several other North Carolina counties under a winter weather advisory, which was also canceled by the weather service overnight.


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  • dk12 Jan 18, 2013

    why do people blame DOT!!
    DOT did cause the happens...
    DOT tries to make the roads safer..but can they always..NO!!
    being safe on the road is UP TO THE DRIVER!! ALWAYS!!ALL CONDITIONS!!

    do people not know the basics of driving on ICE!!
    1. don't use the go ballistic..look it control
    2. increase following distance..think 10times normal..if you can see the plate of the car in front of you YOU'RE TOO CLOSE!! no I'm not talking about being able to read the plate..just seeing it..
    3. if you don't think you can handle driving on ICE!! STAY HOME! 4. TURN OFF THE RADIO/PHONE/DVD PLAYER...ever notice the tire noise changes between wet road and ice does..just listen..but to listen you have to turn off everything in the car..

    giving the rain and the was going to DOT could not stop or prevent all the ice.. if you think it might be ice, DRIVE LIKE IT suddend changes..NONE..stop/turn/go..NOTHING SUDDEN..nice and easy

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 18, 2013

    "Weather like this morning wouldn't have prompted a delay, black ice is a common occurence. The roads are salted/sanded and life goes on."

    yep, other than a warning to drivers about slick conditions it wouldn't even make the news.

  • Pretzel Logic Jan 18, 2013

    The responsibility rest with the driver to operate the ve-hikle according to the road/weather conditions, If your I-phone is reporting 70' and sunny but you are experiencing snow and ice, adjust accordingly...

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 18, 2013

    "1) 4 wheel drive doesn't equal stoping faster"

    yep. We left the 4x4 truck in the drive way and used my wife's TL with ABS and traction control. We weren't plowing through 6 inches of snow out there. Stopping is more important than going in conditions like this morning.

  • Red Green Jan 18, 2013

    "I'm sue schools "up north" are closed/delayed for ice, much different than snow" worldclasscoach

    Weather like this morning wouldn't have prompted a delay, black ice is a common occurence. The roads are salted/sanded and life goes on.

  • jjsmith1973 Jan 18, 2013

    I'm from the midwest their are three things people need to know when driving here. 1) 4 wheel drive doesn't equal stoping faster, just because you go with little sliding stoping is the same. 2) people from the area are not use to snow they are dangerous because they are not experienced driving in it. 3) just becaause you are from some place and grew up driving in snow realize they don't have the same removal and treatment as they do in the midwest of north east. So just because we can drive well in a lot worst back their here they don't have the means to make the roads as safe as fast. Leason slow down

  • 68_dodge_polara Jan 18, 2013

    "There are serious accidents on 40 E and W between CH and Raleigh. Car on it's back and on fire on 40 W near RTP, and two multiple car accidents on 40 E in Durham, one with people trapped in the car. Most of them over bridges."

    odd I drove from Chapel Hill past RTP at 7 am and didn't one accident or feel a slick spot. But want looking for slick spots either as most of the vehicles were traveling as slow or slower than the speed limit except for a couple yaohs which I guess made it at least to Raleigh apparently.

  • Red Green Jan 18, 2013

    "And schools only on a delay? You must be kidding, crazy & dangerous!" worldclasscoach

    The horror, the horror.... please

  • Pretzel Logic Jan 18, 2013

    Yep, Obvious icy conditions and many people still exceeding the speed limit by 10 - 20 mph's, These aren't accidents, these wrecks are a direct result of carelessness and incompetence combined with a blatant disregard for the law and the safety of other divers,, If you are in the ditches today, you deserve it,,,

  • jjsmith1973 Jan 18, 2013

    yea, get those dangerous drunk drivers off the road. Oh wait just the normal commute in the morning around here. Then add snow on the grass and a wet road watch out!