Secondary roads to remain icy mess until at least Friday
Posted January 18, 2018 4:44 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:41 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — The latest on traffic and road conditions around central North Carolina as the North Carolina Department of Transportation works to clean up after a winter storm dumped up to 12 inches of snow in some places.
3:30 p.m.: About 1,500 plows and 700 contract trucks are clearing highways across North Carolina, Tim Little, NCDOT chief engineer, said at a news conference, adding that 44,000 tons of slat have been dumped on roads statewide. Still, those efforts are concentrated on main roads, he said, and secondary roads will remain an icy mess until at least Friday.
"Even roads that have been cleared, when it gets below freezing tonight, there will be black ice issues," Gov. Roy Cooper said.
The State Highway Patrol has responded to nearly 2,700 collisions since early Wednesday, commander Col. Glen McNeill said.
2:45 p.m.: Interstate 85 has reopened in Warren County, but NCDOT says drivers should expect heavy congestion for a while.
12:50 p.m.: A crash has once again closed lanes on Interstate 85. This time, it's southbound I-85 in Warren County that's affected.
12:45 p.m.: Cary has attached plows to a fleet of pickups in an effort to clear neighborhood streets faster.
"We've learned over the years that, while the [main roads] look good, our citizens struggle to get out of their street. With 7 inches of snow, we wanted to get it out of there as quickly as possible so they can get on with their lives and create a good passable road network," Cary Public Works Director Scott Hecht said.
12:40 p.m.: Both Interstate 85 and Interstate 95 have reopened after tractor-trailers were pulled from roadside ditches.
12:15 p.m.: Most area transit services are unavailable Thursday. GoTriangle, GoDurham, GoCary and Chapel Hill Transit buses have canceled all operations. GoRaleigh is providing bus service only along major roads, and riders are asked to call 919-485-7433 to check on the status of a specific route.
12 p.m.: A jack-knifed tractor-trailer has closed northbound Interstate 95 at Keen Road in Four Oaks.
11:30 a.m.: More problems on northbound Interstate 85, where the highway is now closed at Red Mill Road in Durham County. A tractor-trailer slid off the highway near Redwood Road, and crews are working to move it.
11:10 a.m.: A crash in Washington County killed only one person, not two as Gov. Roy Cooper said during a morning news conference.
11 a.m.: Northbound lanes of Interstate 85 have reopened near Hillsborough after a crash involving a tractor-trailer and another vehicle.
10:10 a.m.: NCDOT officials said the focus for crews to the east of Interstate 77 will continue to be interstates and major routes, while crews west of the interstate will move on to secondary roads.
State troopers have responded to 3,500 calls for help, including 2,324 collisions since the storm began.
"This is not the day to learn to drive in the snow," Gov. Roy Cooper said.
10:05 a.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday said two people died in a Washington County car crash during the winter weather.
9:55 a.m.: Two tractor-trailers crashed into each other on Interstate 40 near Hillsborough. It's unclear if anyone was injured.
9:45 a.m.: Snow and slush remain a problem on side streets and secondary roads, as well as in parking lots. Air temperatures are still too low for the brine to be effective, said WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader.
Shady spots are also preventing the sun from heating up the pavement to melt the snow.
8:50 a.m.: All northbound lanes of I-85 in Hillsborough are closed due to an earlier crash just after exit 165 for NC-86. The NCDOT estimated the highway would be open again around 11 a.m.
To detour, northbound drivers can take exit 163 for I-40 east, then take I-40 until exit 270 for US-15/501 north. Follow 15/501 north to get back on I-85 north.
8:40 a.m.: Interstate 85 north is closed in Hillsborough just before N.C. Highway 86 due to a crash.
Sky 5 flew over the scene where a tractor-trailer was off the side of the road and another vehicle was being removed from the scene.
It's unclear if anyone was injured.
Traffic backed up behind the initial crash.
8:20 a.m.: A Duke Energy spokeswoman said crews are assessing damage to try to restore power to thousands of customers. Some of the damage was caused by fallen trees and branches, but drivers have also crashed into utility poles.
8:00 a.m.: I-95 and I-40 in Johnston County are mostly clear, and U.S. and N.C. highways are partially cleared. Secondary roads are still covered in ice and snow.
I-40 at Wade Avenue in Raleigh is showing some pavement, but streaks of snow and ice are still causing slick spots.
7:45 a.m.: WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said dark spots on the pavement will begin to absorb heat as the sun rises, which will help melt snow more quickly. But any roads that are completely covered in white will reflect the suns rays, making it harder to heat the ground below.
7:10 a.m.: More than 5,000 Duke Energy customers lost power in Chatham County Thursday morning. The utility is assessing the damage, according to its website, but it's unclear when the power would be restored.
Almost 1,500 customers in Durham County, 375 in Orange County and 1,000 in Wake County also don't have power.
7 a.m.: Major routes around the region might show some bare pavement, but most roads are coated in a sheet of ice directly on the asphalt topped by a crunchy layer of frozen slush, which makes for dangerous driving.
WRAL traffic reporter Brain Shrader said the safest thing to do is to stay home until the roads clear up.
6:30 a.m.: Both primary runways at RDU are open, according to airport officials, but there have still been 53 cancellations. Most of the canceled flights are affecting Southwest and American Airlines passengers.
6:00 a.m.: Sgt. Michael Baker of the North Carolina Highway Patrol said road conditions are "terrible" on Thursday morning, and some won't get much better throughout the day.
Crews are working on major roads and interstates, Baker said, but the back roads won't see much help until the main routes are clear.
"I don't see a lot of improvement throughout the day on secondary roadways," Baker said.
5:55 a.m.: About 1,500 Duke Energy customers were without power in Durham and Wake County had a little more than 1,000 outages, according to the utility's website. Duke estimated power would be restored in both places by noon.
Orange County reported about 350 customers were in the dark.
5:45 a.m.: NCDOT officials said about 45 contract crews worked through the night to clear off roads, and the maing DOT crews will be back on the clock at 7 a.m.
Despite all the work, though, a department spokesman advised drivers to stay off the road until this afternoon.
5:30 a.m.: Temperatures around central North Carolina hovered in the mid- to high teens, with Raleigh at 16 degrees and Fayetteville at 20. But wind chill values dropped some towns into single-digit temps, like Roxboro and Henderson, which were both around 5 degrees before sunrise.
5 a.m.: Major roads, including U.S. and N.C. highways, were covered in snow and ice Thursday morning before sunrise.
NCDOT cameras stationed around the area show intersections, like Glenwood Avenue at Creedmoor Road in Raleigh and U.S. Highway 70 at Miami Boulevard in Durham, coated in crusty ice.
Some flights in and out of Raleigh-Durham International Airport are still being canceled or delayed Thursday as most of the region continues to deal with snow and ice lingering from Wednesday's winter storm.
RDU recommends checking with specific airlines about flights. Fliers can also check the status of their flights with the WRAL Flight Tracker.
4:30 a.m.: Although the snow is gone, a winter weather advisory remains in effect for most counties in North Carolina until noon on Thursday as snow and ice linger on the roads.
Temperatures will rise above freezing Thursday afternoon and the sun will come out to melt some of the snow, but WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader said that won't help alleviate all of the problems on the roads.
Authorities on social media reported hazardous conditions around the Triangle, and showed ways they were combating travel problems, including intentional fires on railroad tracks.
Roads across North Carolina were affected Wednesday by heavy snowfall that blanketed most of the state in powder, but freezing overnight temperatures mixed with day-old slush on the roads will stymie traffic on Thursday, too.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation said winter weather was impacting travel on Thursday from the Tennessee border across the piedmont to the Triangle, which includes the Asheville, Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh areas. Many roads around the Triangle, including major highways, had at least a thin layer of snow and ice before sunrise.
NCDOT crews worked all day Wednesday to plow snow off roads, but the steady snowfall made for difficult work. As temperatures dropped, crews switched to spreading salt, which officials said would help to melt ice and make plowing easier.
Officials worried that the freezing temperatures would create patches of black ice on roads in many areas on Thursday.