As temps fall into the 20s, black ice a concern on Triangle roads for morning commute

Posted December 10, 2018 3:52 p.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2018 11:14 p.m. EST

— Snow finally cleared out of central North Carolina on Monday afternoon, but that doesn't mean the region is finished with this bout of winter weather.

The Triangle remains under a winter weather advisory until 9 a.m. Tuesday, as freezing temperatures overnight are expected to create treacherous conditions on roads that remain wet after two days of snow, sleet and rain.

The second blast of snow Monday left anywhere from a half-inch to nearly 2 inches on the ground, and some flurries could still pop up Monday evening, WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said.

But as the low-pressure system that brought the snow moves off the coast, it ushers in colder, drier air from the north that will drop temperatures from the mid-30s at about 5 p.m. to below freezing by 2 a.m. Tuesday, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

"What's helping to fuel this is the low, as it moves on out, wrapping that colder air, and the high pressure system [to the west] helping to pump that cold air in from the north," Gardner said.

Temperatures will continue to drop until mid-morning, falling into the upper 20s during the morning commute, she said.

"Don't be surprised, if you're an early riser, [that] at 5 a.m., it's still not terrible out there, but that may change as we get to say 7 to 9 a.m.," she said. "After that, sunshine helps the melting process a good bit."

Bridges are expected to be especially slick, and icy patches are possible on roads that haven't yet dried off.

"While it's not likely to be a sheet of ice everywhere, all it takes is one patch, when you're in the wrong place at the wrong time, and it can not only change your life but change everybody's lives around you," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "Everybody just use common sense and be extra careful."

Temperatures Tuesday will climb into the upper 30s and low 40s, and sunshine will continue melting the leftover snow, Wilmoth said. But temperatures will plunge back into the 20s on Tuesday night, she said, leading to a repeat of the slick roads on Wednesday morning.

"Hopefully, once we get above freezing [Tuesday], we can evaporate a lot of this stuff so that we don't experience as bad a problem the next morning, when it will probably be below freezing again," Fishel said.

DOT crews prep for icy conditions

Jason Dunigan with the Department of Transportation said crews are doing what they can to assist with the black ice.

"There's definitely going to be some black ice. Just because there's no snow, or the pavement is not white, doesn't mean the dampness is on that pavement," said Dunigan.

DOT crews began working last Wednesday in preparation for the storm.

"We put down 160,000 gallons of brine between Thursday morning and Saturday afternoon. Then, we changed over to our spreaders, and so far we put out 3,000 pounds of salt."

Another 650 tons of salt arrived in Raleigh on Monday night from other parts of the state.