Snow accumulating in southern NC; state of emergency declared
Posted February 10, 2014
Updated February 11, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — With snow already falling in south-central parts of the state, Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday morning declared a state of emergency as officials prepare to respond to the second major winter system to impact North Carolina in as many weeks.
The moisture-rich system is expected to drop snow and ice across the majority of the state, with areas in central and eastern North Carolina seeing a rain-snow mix.
"Here we go again, but this time it may be even more serious," McCrory said. "It's probably going to be more unpredictable. Our goal is to be over-prepared and hopefully underwhelmed by the storm. Again, like two weeks ago, this storm is going to be impacting the entire state."
Cold air will filter into the area from the north throughout the day Tuesday, creating ideal conditions for wintry precipitation. Temperatures were in the upper 20s across the Triangle at 11 a.m. after starting in the mid-30s.
Moisture that will feed the winter storm was moving across South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi early Tuesday, slowly making its way into North Carolina from the south and east.
"There is a lot of moisture with this system, and it will begin to impact our southern counties by mid-morning today," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning for several central North Carolina counties, including Person, Orange, Lee, Moore, Durham, Wake and Johnston. The warning is in effect from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday.
Southern counties, including Hoke, Harnett, Wayne, Cumberland and Sampson, were placed under a winter storm warning at 5 a.m. Tuesday.
Agencies prepare for brunt of storm
Road crews across the Triangle spent much of the day Monday spreading brine on major roadways.
Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata said Tuesday that road crews are ready to respond once precipitation begins to fall.
"There are about 2,000 employees on the roads right now with about 700 trucks," Tata said. "We've put down 1.9 million gallons of brine in the last 24 hours. We will re-brine those areas where the rain may have washed it away. We will continue to monitor conditions."
In Johnston County, NCDOT crews have sprayed 120,000 gallons of brine within the last 24 hours. There are 60 employees who will be working in shifts throughout the storm.
Crews have been monitoring roads along with overpasses/bridges today looking for trouble spots and treating them as necessary.
Duke Energy is bringing in hundreds of crews from around the country to help with power outages that could come from this week’s winter storm, company officials said Tuesday.
A total of 150 power workers are on their way to Greensboro from Ohio and Kentucky. Another 200 are coming from Florida to Florence, S.C. That's where they'll wait until they see what areas in North Carolina need attention, a company spokesperson said.
Although the full brunt of the storm hadn't hit Tuesday, it was already disrupting transportation. At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, about 20 arrivals and departures scheduled for Wednesday were canceled as of 2 p.m. and travelers were urged to check their flights before heading out.
Amtrak passengers were also encouraged to check schedules after train service was suspended in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Many schools closing early
Areas in the southern coastal plain could end up with 2 to 4 inches of snow mixed with sleet or freezing rain, an event that could create power outages and dangerous road conditions.
Areas closer to the Triangle could see some light snow accumulations or light wintry mix Tuesday before the entire area gets a brief respite overnight.
"Late Tuesday into Wednesday is when we will see the bulk of this system moving in," Gardner said. "Wake, Durham and Orange counties are under a winter storm watch for Tuesday, but that is likely to be upgraded at some point during the day Tuesday."
Several school systems reacted to the impending winter weather early Tuesday. Students in Cumberland, Johnston, Harnett, Hoke, Lee, Sampson and Wayne counties will not have classes on Tuesday. Moore County and Edgecombe County schools will close at 11:30 a.m., and Chatham County schools will also close early.
Wake County schools will release one hour early Tuesday afternoon, officials said. After-school activities in Wake County have also been canceled for Tuesday evening.
Durham and Orange county schools, as well as Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools, have not made announcements regarding Tuesday classes. Wake Technical Community College will close at 2 p.m.
Cumberland County and Fort Bragg schools will be closed Wednesday. See a complete list.
The second round of precipitation, which will likely start as snow, will move into the area during the day Wednesday from south to north. All of central North Carolina will see some impact, and spots in the Triangle could see the precipitation change to sleet or freezing rain later in the day.
Highs Wednesday will top out near freezing.
Areas east of Interstate 95 will mostly see rain Wednesday, and communities between I-95 and Raleigh will see a mix of wintry weather.
"We're going to see widespread snow and ice on Wednesday," Gardner said. "The northern part of our viewing area will likely see more snow, but those areas where we see some frozen precipitation will really be spots to watch."
Storm impact will vary across state
McCrory reiterated the dangers of an unpredictable system, saying the constant changes make logistics difficult for those responding to the storm.
"Each part of the state will have different timings with this. Some may see more rain, some may see more sleet, some may see more snow," McCrory said. "There is the potential for power outages. Avoid travel once the storm hits the part of the state you are in."
The system will begin to clear the area Thursday, but the area could continue to see a rain-snow mix during the first part of the day. Temperatures will top out in the upper 30s.
Drier and warmer air will return on Friday, and sunshine will be the dominant feature of the forecast throughout the weekend.