After damp, cold day: Beware black ice

Posted December 9, 2017 3:50 p.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— With temperatures dropping and wet roads across central North Carolina, the National Weather Service posted a winter weather advisory for the Triangle for the overnight hours. Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties are included in an advisory for the hours between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation urged drivers to stay off the roads if possible until midday Sunday. Crews were on call through the night to answer any icy spots with salt and sand.

Slush created during daylight Saturday could turn to ice from temperatures dropping below freezing, creating black ice on roads, bridges and other elevated surfaces.

"That catches people more off guard than when you see snow," said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Moneypenny of the Raleigh, North Carolina, office.

Sunday promises clear, sunny skies, and a quick warmup into the low 40s which should clear and melt any ice that remains.

"That sun will help to dry things out for us," WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said.

By noon, temperatures should be close to 40 degrees and climbing.

With an eye toward safety, some churches canceled Sunday services while the NC Zoo in Asheboro planned for a delayed opening.

Although most of the Triangle saw more rain than snow Saturday, the moisture left behind from a cold, damp day will quickly freeze when temperatures fall into the 20s overnight. Bridges and other elevated surfaces, parking lots and sidewalks are the most likely places for icy spots to form.

For a second night in a row, the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival at Cary's Booth Amphitheatre was closed. Pre-purchased tickets can be used for other dates during the festival's run.

The Holiday Express, at Raleigh's Pullen Park, went on as scheduled Saturday night.

Communities along the North Carolina-Virginia state line, including Henderson and Roanoke Rapids saw light snowfall into the evening as the system pulled away from the Triangle to the north and east.

Snow, rain mix for miserable Saturday in Triangle

Saturday's high temperature in Raleigh hovered around the freezing mark, allowing for a rain-and-snow mix throughout the day.

In Winston-Salem, Chapel Hill, Raleigh and Durham, state championship high school football games went on as the flakes flew.

Warm ground temperatures, after weeks of unseasonably warm weather, kept snow from accumulating in Raleigh, while Roxboro and areas west through the North Carolina mountains saw that snow pile up.

The National Weather Service reported Saturday that more than 14 inches fell in Burnsville, while there were 12 inches in the Hendersonville area and Asheville Regional Airport recorded 8 inches.

In the Triad, Winston-Salem had 3 inches and Greensboro reported 2 inches. Further east, Burlington and Roxboro had 1 inch.

Bulk of snow stays to south

The Triangle saw only a taste of a snowstorm that paralyzed places further south.

By Saturday, Burnsville had reported 14½ inches (35 centimeters) of snow. The Hendersonville area had 12 inches (30 centimeters) and Asheville recorded 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow. Across the South, preliminary reports to the National Weather Service showed up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snowfall in northwest Georgia, with 7 inches (18 centimeters) of accumulation in parts of metro Atlanta. Another 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow was reported in Anniston, Alabama, while up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) were reported in Mississippi. Rare flurries were even reported in New Orleans.

"It's very, very abnormal and rare that we would get totals like that this time of year," said Sid King, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the Atlanta area. "It's really not even winter yet. I would not be surprised if we broke a lot of records."

By Saturday evening, Duke Energy was reporting 22,340 customers without power in North Carolina, down from more than 39,000 earlier in the day. More than 334,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity Saturday afternoon in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. About 235,000 of those still in the dark were in Georgia.