Local News

Wintry Weather Moving Into Triangle; Storm Warning In Effect

Posted January 29, 2005 4:36 a.m. EST

— Snow and sleet began falling in the Piedmont early Saturday, as road and power crews braced for a winter blast that's expected to dump snow and freezing rain across two-thirds of the state this weekend.


winter storm warning

is in effect for much of the eastern Piedmont of central North Carolina, including

Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham, Person, Franklin, Warren, Lee and Moore


Snow and sleet will overspread the warning area this afternoon and continue overnight. Over the eastern Piedmont, including Warrenton, the Triangle, Southern Pines and Rockingham,

a mixture of snow and sleet is expected this afternoon and evening

. Freezing rain will be mixed with the snow and sleet late tonight and continue into early Sunday, especially from Sanford south to Rockingham.

Total snow and sleet accumulations of

2 to 4 inches

are expected with up to a quarter inch thick coating of ice atop the snow and sleet accumulation.

Travel is not recommended this evening or overnight. Accumulations of ice may result in

power outages overnight


A light sleet-snow mixture was reported shortly after 1:30 p.m. Saturday in

Person County

, and snow was reported in

Hillsborough in Orange County

. By 3 p.m., sleet was reported in southern Wake County near Apex.

Areas from

Charlotte north to Davie County

reported the first signs of the winter storm Saturday, said the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C.

"It looks like it's beginning to make its way to the northeast,'' said meteorologist Neil Dixon. "It's pretty much on schedule.''

The state Highway Patrol in Catawba County late morning reported numerous accidents on slick roads throughout the 10-county region it patrols, though no serious injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service said snow accumulations up to 6 inches were possible in the northwestern mountains.

The line between mostly snow and mostly freezing rain was somewhat uncertain Saturday. The National Weather Service extended the winter storm warning area east at noon, including Wake, Franklin, Warren and Lee counties in the area expected to received two to four inches of snow.

Crews Pre-Treating Roads

Road crews are staying one step ahead of the storm to prevent a repeat of the last snow and ice event.

On Jan. 19, motorists were stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic due to a sudden snowfall.

North Carolina DOT officials are working with Raleigh city officials

to make sure they are covering and treating roads before any snow and ice arrives on Saturday. The two groups also promise more coordination.

"We want to make sure we both have the tools we need to work with," said Elwood Davis, street superintendent for the city of Raleigh. "We want to make sure ... we do have an overlap, but not a lot. We don't want to have a half-mile stretch of road that is not covered. We'll be communicating throughout the storm. The communication we have is great and I can directly talk to my counterpart over there."

The state DOT met with Raleigh supervisors of street maintenance recently and agreed to share supplies and police escorts.

Road pre-treatment supplies are among the materials the city and state could share if needed. Raleigh has a huge supply of calcium chloride. It costs a $1 a gallon, but it can be used at almost any temperature.

The state has a big supply of brine. The salt-based solution costs a nickel a gallon, but it needs temperatures of at least 25 degrees to work.

The weather threat was significant enough that the state Democratic Party canceled a Saturday meeting in Raleigh to elect a new chairman.

Elsewhere, some college events and basketball games were postponed or moved up because of the threat.

Power Crews Poised To Respond

Duke Power Co

. spokeswoman Valerie Patterson said the utility was getting ready.

"We have our own staff meteorologist who is tracking the system to determine if and when it might impact our service area," she said. "We are ready to respond to any power outages."

Duke also issued a public service announcement Friday urging customers to check their flashlights and batteries and make sure they have an ample supply of bottled water and nonperishable food items on hand in case of outages that could last several days.

"If you have any elderly members of the household or someone with special needs, you should start thinking now about alternative arrangements if you have a have power outage," Patterson said.

Nancy Thompson, a spokeswoman for

Progress Energy

, said extra line repair and tree cutting crews were coming to western North Carolina to be on hand if there was significant icing. More than 90 employees were to be in Asheville Friday night.

About 100 Progress linemen were on the way from Florida and would be staged in Florence, S.C., in case they were needed, said spokeswoman Julie Hans.

"We have strike teams on call in the eastern part of the state," Hans said. "We have been through enough of these winter storms to know they can change very quickly. We are planning for the worst case scenario and if it happens we'll be ready."

The DOT also said more than 6,000 employees were on standby and that crews already had treated bridges, overpasses and parts of major highways west of Interstate 95.