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Record Low of 10 Set at RDU; Ice Storm Possible This Weekend

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RALEIGH — First a record snowfall, now record temperatures. The mercury dropped to a new record low of 10 degrees Thursday morning at RDU. The previous record low of 13 degrees was set in 1986.

Adding insult to injury, another round of wintry weather is on its way. WRAL's WeatherCenter says a system of snow and ice traveling towards the east could bring a mix of of snow, sleet and freezing rain Saturday evening into Sunday.

Meteorolgist Chris Thompson said there is a chance the system could stay south of the region. Like the storm Monday night and Tuesday, it is one that forecasters are watching closely.

Wednesday and Thursday's sunshine helped melt some of the record 20.3-inch snowfall, but roads were still icy and hazardous in many areas Thursday after the overnight freeze.

Travel is not recommended on roads Thursday morning. Major highways are icy, but I-40, I-95 are described as passable by the Highway Patrol. Early morning reports describe U.S. 70, U.S. 401 and and N.C. 55 as "sheets of ice." Travel should improve by the afternoon, only to become hazardous as newly melted snow and ice refreeze.

The storm continues to cripple many essential services.

The major school systems in the area -- Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham, Johnston, Cumberland and Chapel Hill-Carrboro -- have announced they will becloseda fourth consecutive day, as well as many others in the region.

RDU International re-opened about 3 p.m. with a small number of flights. U.S. Airways, Continental and Northwest canceled all flights into and out of RDU on Thursday. The airport was closed for a record two-and-a-half days.

RDU Spokesperson Mike Blanton says after clearing one major runaway, crews discovered 3 inches of ice underneath. Anyone with travel plans should check with the airlines, not the airport.

Mayor Paul Coble described Raleigh on Wednesday as still snowed under by the surprise storm, which he described as a "white hurricane."

Some residents emerged from their houses and apartments Wednesday for the first time since snow began falling Monday night. People lined up outside the Harris-Teeter at Cameron Village for the chance to do some much-needed shopping.

On Interstate 85, the tempers of stranded motorists started to flare as they questioned relief efforts. One woman who had been stuck on the interstate since 2 a.m. Tuesday called WRAL Wednesday morning from her cell phone to complain about the state's poor response to the storm.

Truck driver Lora Jones was in good spirits Wednesday despite having spent Tuesday night in the cab of her truck. She had just enough battery-power left to send an e-mail to her trucking company, who later came to her rescue. While her truck is still stranded along an I-85 exit ramp, she is spending Wednesday night in a nearby hotel.

The sunny weather and warmer temperatures helped crews trying to restore power. Here is the breakdown of outages as of 10 p.m. Thursday:
  • Duke Power: 6,700 customers
  • CP&L: 21,000 customers (13,000 in Moore County)
  • The North Carolina Electric Cooperatives: 28,000 customers
  • A number of shelters have opened in the area for those stranded or without power:
  • Wilson: Wilson County Rescue Building, South Tarboro Street
  • Granville County: South Granville H.S. and Northern Granville Middle SchoolRoad conditions across the state continue to be hazardous, and authorities urge residents to stay home if possible.
  • The National Guard was called out after Gov. Jim Hunt declared a state of emergency around noon on Tuesday. Guardsmen have been called in to assist in medical requests, including medical rescues for people stranded from the winter weather and transporting state employees to and from their jobs.

    The National Guard is also providing power generators to places that lost power following the storm and 4 x 4 vehicles to law enforcement officials who cannot travel in their area.

    The state has set up a hotline to help storm victims with life-threatening emergencies. The emergency hotline number is(800) VISIT-NC or (800) 847-4862.

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    John Conway, Web Editor

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