Winter one-two punch will leave NC dazed
Posted February 11
Raleigh, N.C. — Round 1 of a one-two winter punch is already affecting our area, and Round 2 looks to be even worse.
How it will unfold
First, let me address Tuesday’s snow. For the most part, the snow is along and south of U.S. Highway 64 and will continue as mostly or all snow through the afternoon. Since it is all snow, we do not expect much in the way of power outages, but roads – especially secondary roads and others that have not been pre-treated – will be slick. Temperatures will dip below freezing overnight, so roads south of U.S. 64 may be icy in spots overnight.
Wednesday’s Round 2 will be comparatively worse. The precipitation will begin as mostly or all snow but change over for many to a wintry mix or freezing rain. While all wintry weather makes for hazardous or dangerous travel, freezing rain also brings the risk of power outages, especially as ice accumulations exceed about a quarter of an inch.
What it means
When this all wraps up on Thursday, parts of North Carolina, mainly in the mountains and foothills, will have gotten between 6 inches and a foot of snow. The coast will see mostly rain throughout, with little or no accumulating snow or ice. In between, we will have a transition zone between the “all snow” to the west and “all rain” to the southeast. As often happens here in central North Carolina, that zone will set up right over us. Exactly where the storm system tracks will determine how far inland that zone will be and will affect the exact mix of who sees how much of what.
The farther northwest you live, the more likely you are to see mostly or all snow, and the snow totals will be significant – enough to disrupt travel for a couple of days. Since it will be all snow, power outages will be few and far between, but you may be stuck for a couple of days, well into Friday, at least. The snow will likely be a more classic Carolina snow with big, wet flakes that are good for snow cream and snowmen.
The farther south you live, the more likely you already have some snow on the ground from Tuesday’s event, and the more likely you are to add ice on top of that. Because of the ice threat, there may be scattered power outages due to downed lines, especially in areas where the power lines are above ground. Here also, expect to stay put until at least Friday, if not Saturday. The mixed precip will make the snow poor for snow cream and the like.
For the Triangle, we will see enough snow and ice to make roads dangerous by Wednesday evening, if not before. There may be enough ice in spots to cause isolated power outages, but that is not likely for most. Travel will be dangerous Wednesday night through at least Friday morning. The more ice you have, the less the snow will be good for snow balls and snow cream.
Some have drawn similarities to the ice storm from 2002. That storm generated a band of 0.75-inch or greater ice from Charlotte through Chapel Hill and northeast toward Warrenton, with lesser amounts on either side. I think that is an upper bound for this event, with a caveat that the band of higher amounts may be shifted south and east a bit. In any event, do not key your preparations for this storm based on what happened in 2002. These storms are very different in how they are developing; take this one on its own.
Some things to think about
If you have not already, here are some things you can do today to prepare, regardless of where in central North Carolina you live:
- Road conditions will get worse from south to north during the day on Wednesday. If you already have snow on the ground or icy roads where you are, plan to stay home on Wednesday if you can. If you need to be out Wednesday, plan to be home (or wherever you want to be for the duration) by nightfall. Consider packing an extra coat or blanket in case you get stuck.
- Be prepared to be wherever you are Wednesday evening through at least Friday morning, including food, water, medication, entertainment for kids and the like.
- If you live in an area prone to power outages – especially if the lines to your home or neighborhood are above ground – have an alternate source of heat. Avoid candles and open flames, and carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for heaters. Do not burn fires, including lighting grills, indoors! (You might also consider identifying someone you can visit if your power goes out.)
- If you have a generator, ensure it has been well-maintained, that it is fueled up and that the exhaust is vented outside your home. You might also consider reaching out to friends or family who may lose power if you are able to host them.
- Charge all of your electronic devices – phones, tablets, laptops, portable radios, TVs, etc. – and keep them charged.
- If you have not already, consider downloading the WRAL News and WRAL Weather apps from the Apple App Store and Google Play store. If the power goes out, you can still get forecasts as well as watch our programming via a live stream.
- Likewise, consider downloading the Ready NC app. It includes safety tips, traffic reports and telephone numbers for utility companies.
- Make sure you have a full tank of gas, and consider parking your car in a spot with easier access to the road.
- Check on elderly neighbors, especially those who rely on electronic equipment.
- Ensure your pets have a warm place to sleep, plenty of food and access to water. Be aware that water left outside may freeze.
Of course, stay tuned to WRAL-TV and WRAL.com for further updates on the storm’s path, expected snow and ice totals and the latest impacts across our area.