18 NC counties are under alert, including Wake, Cumberland, Johnston, Wayne, and Harnett counties. Details
Published: 2015-02-16 04:52:00
Updated: 2015-02-16 16:21:07
Posted February 16, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory and Tony Tata, state Secretary of Transportation declared North Carolina "well prepared" Monday for a winter storm that will deliver snow, sleet and ice to the state.
A chilly high pressure system pushing down from the north collided along the North Carolina-Virginia border late Monday afternoon with a moisture-packed low from the south, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
"It's a battle close to the Virginia line, and there the cold air wins out," she said.
Flakes and flurries were reported as early as 4 p.m. in central North Carolina, but the brunt of the storm won't be evident until Tuesday morning.
"This still looks like a significant winter storm, but when it's all said and done, it won't be snow you'll be talking about," said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. "Freezing air between 5,000 and 10,000 feet above ground will spoil the snow party, but may deliver a significant amount of sleet.
"The bottom line is that a little snow falls late Monday afternoon into the early evening, followed by several hours of sleet and then freezing rain at the end before precipitation shuts down early Tuesday morning," he added.
In anticipation of the treacherous travel conditions to come, many public school systems planned an early dismissal Monday afternoon.
The Cumberland County Public School System, where students had Monday off for President's Day, announced early Monday that they'd delay the start of classes on Tuesday by two hours.
Monday will be mostly dry, Gardner said.
"Most of this will not happen until the evening commute or even a little bit after that," she said, noting that a few flakes could begin in the north and western parts of the Triangle by 4 p.m.
That snow continues through the evening but will not amount to much, Fishel said. "The computer models show little to no snow accumulation showing up in the Triangle from this storm," Gardner said.
By 10 or 11 p.m., the snow changes to sleet and overnight will be mostly freezing rain.
Precipitation tapers off after sunrise, leaving the potential for power outages where ice accumulates.
"Tuesday is going to be a very cold day, so we won't see very much melting," Gardner said, adding, "Tuesday is going to be very, very messy on the roads."
Raleigh could see a quarter to a half an inch of ice accumulate on roads and surfaces. That is enough to post a threat for power outages where heavy ice weighs down tree branches and power lines.
"You'll want to plan for power outages," Gardner said. "Have an emergency kit available Monday by 5 p.m."