Weather

Schools canceled, delayed ahead of predicted snow

Posted December 15, 2010 5:33 a.m. EST
Updated December 15, 2010 11:44 p.m. EST

— As road crews raced against the clock to treat area roads ahead of winter weather moving into central North Carolina, more than a dozen school districts on Wednesday canceled or delayed classes for Thursday.

Granville, Orange and Vance county school systems will be closed, while other school systems, such as Wake, Chatham, Durham, Cumberland and Johnston counties, will operate on a two-hour delay. (See a complete list of closings and delays.)

Snow in the forecast also prompted North Carolina State University to push exams scheduled for 8 a.m. back to 10 a.m. and those scheduled for 1 p.m. back to 2 p.m.

Various weather models show the Triangle getting anywhere from a trace to 2 inches of snow, and areas northward receiving up to 3 inches, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said Wednesday evening. Areas south of the Triangle will most likely see sleet and freezing rain.

The storm's biggest impact will come during the morning commute Thursday, because ground temperatures are so low. It won’t take a lot of precipitation to cause problems on the road, Fishel said.

Snow is expected to start falling in the Triangle and northern counties around 4 a.m. Thursday while a wintry mix of snow, freezing rain and rain is expected south of the Triangle.

The line separating snow from a wintry mix will move north during the morning, forcing a change-over from snow to freezing rain or sleet.

"It's going to be a morning where we have a lot of changes happening hour by hour," WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

The precipitation will change over to rain by early afternoon and taper off by the evening.

Crews with counties, cities, towns and the North Carolina Department of Transportation have been working for the past two days treating highways and interstates and major roads with brine solution – a mixture of water and salt. About 80,000 to 100,000 gallons of the solution had been put down in Wake County alone by Thursday night, DOT crews said.

If the change-over to rain happens as predicted, roads should be in OK shape for the evening commute.

Temperatures will be in the mid-20s when wintry precipitation begins to fall Thursday morning, and they'll only rise to the mid 30s throughout the day.

Any freestanding water could become black ice late Thursday and early Friday, Fishel said.

Despite the wintry weather, Thursday will mark the beginning of a slight warm-up. Temperatures aren’t expected to be below freezing again until Saturday.

Friday will see a high in the low 40s and an overnight low just above freezing. The day will be mainly cloudy with some spotty light rain or drizzle.

Saturday will be cloudy and chilly at 40 degrees, with a possibility of some rain or snow.

Sunday will be partly cloudy, breezy and cold with a high of 39 degrees.