Gov. Mike Easley, along with DOT officials, is warning motorists to stay off roads across the state following the latest winter storm.
"Road conditions remain hazardous," Easley said. "People should avoid traveling if at all possible until the roads are cleared. N.C. Department of Transportation (NCDOT) crews have been working around-the-clock to clear ice from the state's highways, but secondary roads, bridges and overpasses are still dangerous."
State and local road crews spread salt and sand on highways and bridges to melt up to 3 inches of sleet that fell across two-thirds of the state Sunday and early Monday. Accumulations of an inch or more of freezing rain were reported in the mountains and foothills.
Chatham, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Person and Wake counties have all announced school
for Tuesday. Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Durham public schools have also announced they will be closed on Tuesday.
Utility Companies Able To Handle Outages
Utility outages paled in comparison to December's ice storm, much to the relief of power companies worried that ice-covered tree branches would fall on electric lines.
"We were very well prepared, but we were glad we didn't have to use all of our resources," Progress Energy spokesman Garrick Francis said.
Nature's cleanup efforts were hindered by cloud cover and afternoon high temperatures around 32 degrees, but plows and what little daytime traffic there was cleared some roads. Sunshine and highs in the 40s and 50s on Tuesday should help melt secondary roads untouched Monday.
As of 5 p.m. Monday, Progress Energy reported less than 1,000 outages, most of them being in the Nash County/Zebulon area.
"Our crews are having a difficult time getting to some of the areas because of the driving conditions, so the repairs could take longer than they normally would," Hughes said.
Progress Energy had about 2,700 workers out in the field, including tree and line crews, he said. About 2,000 of those were from outside the company, including workers from Florida and other states.
Duke Energy reported about 5,700 customers are without power. Officials said most of those outages are in the South Carolina area.
North Carolina's 27 electric cooperatives reported no significant weather-related outages.
The company's information hotline reported about 2,200 workers in the field. About 900 outside workers from the Carolinas, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas were assisting, officials said.
Authorities Respond To Hundreds Of Weather-Related Accidents
The Highway Patrol responded to 901 vehicle collisions -- 293 in the Triangle -- between midnight and 3 p.m. Monday, patrol Sgt. Everett Clendenin said. Most were fender-benders with no fatalities reported.
Troopers responded to more than 2,000 calls Sunday.
A little freezing rain Monday morning caught motorists off guard in some eastern counties. Ten vehicles were involved in a morning pileup when a driver stopped on an ice-covered bridge on U.S. 117 in Goldsboro, prompting several cars behind to crash. There were some minor injuries.
"The ice came real quick," said Trooper B.L. Quinn. "We just had a whole dump-truck load (of accidents) all morning."
A woman was hospitalized in stable condition after she broke her collarbone when her car slid down an embankment at a Goldsboro intersection before dawn Monday.
The bad weather prompted postponements of men's basketball games Monday night: East Tennessee State at UNC-Greensboro and Pfeiffer at Queens. The baseball opener also was postponed at UNC-Chapel Hill, where classes were canceled Monday.
People who must travel should check
for the latest travel conditions.
National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Krentz in Greer, S.C., attributed fewer outages in western North Carolina in part due to tree cutting work performed by utilities following the December event.
"I was expecting to see all of these problems," said Krentz.
Winter Weather Creates Travel Problems Across East Coast
The weekend storm was part of the same system that dumped 2 to 4 feet of snow across the mid-Atlantic states and northeast Sunday and Monday.
Airline cancellations elsewhere forced about 1,200 travelers to spend Sunday night at Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, where operations resumed Monday morning. There were also
Monday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Twenty-five fifth-graders at Tommy's Road Elementary School in Goldsboro and a dozen chaperones were stranded Monday in Washington, D.C. They were on a field trip.
"We have no idea how long they will be there," said school principal Patsy Faison said. "The kids think this is the grandest thing."
Travelers are urged to call their airline to check for the latest updates about cancellations and delays.
The storm - the fourth major blast of winter weather in North Carolina this season - is taking a hit on local governments. Charlotte has blown a hole in its $100,000 snow removal budget, Vines said, with expenses now reaching $850,000.
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