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Record Snowfall Paralyzes Triangle in 2000

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RALEIGH — The deep freeze continues Wednesday as temperatures in the teens greet North Carolinians ready to get out from under the two feet of snow left by Tuesday's nor'easter.

The 18.2 inches recorded Tuesday at the Raleigh-Durham International Airport broke snowfall records dating back to 1893.

Arctic air will continue to blow through the state until Thursday, according to WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. Fishel says the temperatures will fall into the teens until Wednesday morning, warm up a little Wednesday afternoon (for a high of 33), and then drop again Wednesday night and Thursday morning, when a low of 11 is expected.

There is also a front that could bring more winter weather to the state this weekend, but it is too soon to tell.

Meanwhile, thousands of people remain without power across the state as of 11 p.m. Tuesday.

  • Duke Power: 118,000 customers total, 10,000 in Durham-Chapel Hill area
  • CP&L: 101,000 customers
  • The North Carolina Electric Cooperatives: 54,000 customers, most in the Sandhills

CP&L spokesperson Sally Ramey told WRAL Tuesday that it could take several days to restore power to all areas.

A number of shelters have opened in the area for those stranded or without power:

  • Durham: Hillside High School
  • Wilson: Wilson County Rescue Building, South Tarboro Street
  • Granville County: South Granville H.S. and Northern Granville Middle School Road conditions across the state continue to be hazardous, and authorities urge residents to stay home if possible.
The DOT expects 800 tons of salt to arrive Wednesday morning, and at 6 a.m., crews will be back at work clearing primary roads, many of which are passable for four-wheel drive vehicles. Many secondary roads remain covered with snow and ice.

RDU could reopen Wednesday afternoon, but anyone with travel plans should check with the airlines, not the airport.

Hunt says state agencies threw everything they had at the crisis, but there's always room to do more.

"When you get a snow like this once every century, obviously you are going to get caught a bit short," says Hunt. "Frankly, a lot of the Humvees the National Guard has, and things like that are up in the mountains. That's where we traditionally get our worst snow storms. This time we've had it right here and we're bringing things in as fast as we can. A lot of people are working now, but it is up to us to use good sense."

The intense storm forced area schools, colleges and businesses to close. Durham, Johnston, Chatham, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Cumberland, Orange and Wake county schools have canceled classes for Wednesday.

The heavy snowfall coupled with colder temperatures through Friday may mean some schools will be closed much of this week.

Gov. Jim Hunt has declared a state of emergency for all of North Carolina, and Durham city and county leaders have also enacted a curfew for residents. They say residents not involved in essential services should stay off the roads from 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. The curfew ends Friday morning at 8.

The largest snowfall ever recorded at RDU in a 24-hour period was 17.8 inches on March 2, 1927. The most snowfall from a single storm was 17.9 inches in February 1902. The most snowfall in a month was 20.0 inches in January 1893. Counting snowfalls from Jan. 18, Jan. 20 and Jan. 24-25, more than 23 inches of snow have fallen at RDU this January.

The buildup of ice and high winds are causing trouble with power lines. At 10 p.m., CP&L reported 112,000 outages statewide, mostly in the Sandhills, down from a peak of 166,000. Duke Power has 118,000 customers without power across the state, with more than 10,000 of those customers in Durham and Chapel Hill. The N.C. Electric Membership Corp., which handles power service in many rural areas in the state, reported 54,000 outages statewide, mostly in Union, Stanly, Moore, Anson and Randolph counties.

CP&L workers packed up and headed inside, unable to work overnight in the worsening conditions, Sally Ramey, a spokeswoman with the power company said. About 1,800 employees were scheduled to start repairing downed power lines after daybreak this morning.

``Visibility is very poor,'' Ramey said. ``With wind gusts at 40 miles per hour, it's just not safe to have somebody up there working on a power line in a bucket truck.''

In the Robeson County town of Parkton, two people were rescue after falling into a riverbed while walking their dog. The boys, ages 14 and 20 are said to be in good condition. One of the victims was transported to a local hospital for treatment.


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John Conway, Web Editor

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