Overnight freeze causes slick roads; light snow, ice possible Saturday

A system that was projected to potentially dump 6 to 8 inches of snow in the parts of the Triangle drastically changed course overnight, causing more sleet and freezing rain to fall in Wake County and surrounding areas.

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WAKE COUNTY, N.C. — After a mix of wintry weather pelted North Carolina on Friday, a hard freeze overnight turned many roads around the Triangle into sheets of compacted ice and snow.

Many cities in the eastern part of the state woke up on Saturday morning to temperatures in the 20s. The region's high temperature later in the afternoon, though, won't help thaw cars or trees.

"What we'll see today is temperatures only warming up to 32, so the road conditions will not improve quickly today," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

Gardner said bands of snow whipping through will continue throughout Saturday, possibly bringing a trace amount of accumulation to most counties.

Later, winds will pick up with gusts up to 30 mph.

"Of course, that could create more problems with even more power outages," Gardner said.

WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss said soil temperatures are in the mid to upper 30s, but that doesn't mean the surface temperature will be warm enough to melt any additional precipitation that could fall today.

A major thaw won't happen until Sunday, Gardner said, when the skies clear and sunlight is set to return to the Triangle with a high of 40 degrees and lows in the 20s.

"That sunshine always helps to improve the road conditions," Gardner said, though a winter storm warning for most of the Triangle is still in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday.

Projected snow accumulation has shifted since Thursday evening, with totals now estimated from trace amounts to possibly 2 inches.

Duke Energy reported as of 7:30 a.m. that about 61,000 in Wake County are without power.

In response to the power outages, Wake and Chatham County opened shelters Friday afternoon in preparation of anyone needing assistance.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation said it sent 80 trucks and graters—including contractors—to treat bridges, highways and overpasses, totaling 5,800 lane miles in Wake County.

Officials said trucks have dropped 1,400 tons of salt on the roadways.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol has reported four traffic fatalities due to the winter weather.

At 8:21 a.m. on Friday, troopers responded to a collision on I-95 in Johnston County. The driver of a tractor-trailer traveling south lost control, jackknifed and blocked both lanes of the highway.

Authorities said a pickup truck, also traveling south, then crashed into the tractor trailer. A passenger in the pickup truck was declared dead at the scene and the driver was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Other wrecks were reported throughout midday, including a number of tractor-trailer accidents causing closures and delays on I-95 and I-85.

In addition to weather causing cancelations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, other transportation systems were shut down on Friday, including GoRaleigh bus services.

Officials said GoRaleigh busses will cease operation at 8 p.m., with the R-Line stopping services at 4 p.m.


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