Local News

Carolinians Have Fun Despite Inconveniences

Posted February 3, 1996 6:00 a.m. EST

— February 4, 1996 - 3:04 p.m. ESTFrom Staff Reports and Wire Stories

In some places in North Carolina, it was too cold to pray on Sunday, but that didn't stop people from having some fun in freshly fallen snow.

After days of every other kind of winter precipitation imaginable, the Triangle played host to, at long last, legitimate snow.

Snow! The kind you can brush off your car without a scraper. The kind you can walk on without taking baby-steps. The kind that looks so beautiful falling, even to the most winter-weary.

The powder began falling Saturday night and continued into late Sunday afternoon. Skies were expected to clear by Sunday night, but with temperatures falling to about 5 degrees. Only slight warming is forecast for Monday.

While power outages combined with below-freezing temperatures and icy roads to convince many churches to cancel services, it only served to convince others to drag out the sled, or take the dog for a walk along snow-covered roads.

Triangle residents are, for the most part, the lucky ones in terms of having power. Three utilities serving North Carolina reported 295,000 customers were without power Sunday.

Duke Power had 280,000 customers without power in North Carolina, including 63,000 in the Winston-Salem area; 52,000 in the Hickory area; and 23,000 in Charlotte.

Carolina Power & Light Co. reported 7,000 customers without service, half of them in the Asheville area. And North Carolina Power, which serves northeastern North Carolina, reported 8,000 customers without power.

The cold is the result of a high pressure system building over the Southeast and pulling Arctic air into the state, said Ruth Aiken, meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

By Wednesday, highs will be in the 50s across much of the state with some 40s in the west, Aiken said.

The forecast caused Aiken to indulge in a well-worn, but accurate, cliche: ``It's going to get worse before it gets better.''

A record low of 23 degrees set Saturday at Piedmont Triad International Airport near Greensboro. The previous record low for Feb. 3 was 26 degrees set in 1961.

Ten deaths were attributed to the weather, including seven in traffic accidents. On Saturday, Gov. Jim Hunt asked President Clinton to declare a state of emergency in North Carolina.

The cold followed a couple of days when snow, sleet and freezing rain fell across the state, coating roads, power lines and trees.

Copyright ©1996 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.