Slick spots on Raleigh roads cause some morning crashes

Posted December 10, 2017 6:06 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 1:40 p.m. EDT

— Roads were icy in some spots in the Triangle on Sunday morning, according to WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss, but conditions improved by mid-morning.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for multiple North Carolina counties, including Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties, until 10 a.m.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation urged drivers to stay off the roads if possible until midday Sunday. Crews were on call through the night to answer any icy spots with salt and sand. "That's the tricky thing this morning," said Moss. "You'll be in a dry place with no ice, but then a bridge or interstate ramp could have an icy patch."

"Lingering moisture on some roads, sidewalks and parking lots could freeze in to patches of black ice, making for some slick spots early today," said Moss. "By around 8:30 a.m. or so, moist places that are in direct sun will be fine, and air temperatures should climb above freezing by 10 a.m., taking care of any remaining problem areas."

Though many Triangle roads were dry and clear of ice, Moss said it's the unexpected that is the most dangerous.

"That catches people more off guard than when you see snow," said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Moneypenny of the Raleigh, North Carolina, office.

Black ice is most often found on bridges, ramps and other elevated surfaces, and roads north and west of Raleigh are most likely to be affected.

Road conditions caused morning crashes

Near RDU, the Highway Patrol is investigating a crash on a entrance ramp to Aviation Parkway off I-540 involving multiple vehicles. At least one vehicle left the road.

Officials said one car was traveling 45 mph, exceeding the speed for black ice, which caused the collision. Traffic was reduced to one lane in the icy area.

Also in Raleigh, near Capital Boulevard and Louisburg Road, a car slid on the road and hit a fire hydrant, causing water to shoot into the air.

Sunday promises clear, sunny skies, and a quick warmup into the low 40s which should clear and melt any ice that remains. By noon, temperatures should be close to 40 degrees and climbing.

With an eye toward safety, some churches canceled Sunday services while the NC Zoo in Asheboro planned for a delayed opening.

The Holiday Express at Raleigh's Pullen Park, went on as scheduled Saturday night.

Bulk of snow stays to south

Communities along the North Carolina-Virginia state line, including Henderson and Roanoke Rapids, saw light snowfall Saturday evening as the system pulled away from the Triangle to the north and east. Warm ground temperatures kept snow from accumulating in Raleigh, while Roxboro and areas west through the North Carolina mountains saw that snow pile up.

The National Weather Service reported Saturday that more than 14 inches fell in Burnsville, while there were 12 inches in the Hendersonville area and Asheville Regional Airport recorded 8 inches. In the Triad, Winston-Salem had 3 inches and Greensboro reported 2 inches. Further east, Burlington and Roxboro had 1 inch.

The Triangle saw only a taste of a snowstorm that paralyzed places further south.

By Saturday, Burnsville had reported 14½ inches (35 centimeters) of snow. The Hendersonville area had 12 inches (30 centimeters) and Asheville recorded 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow. Across the South, preliminary reports to the National Weather Service showed up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snowfall in northwest Georgia, with 7 inches (18 centimeters) of accumulation in parts of metro Atlanta. Another 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow was reported in Anniston, Alabama, while up to 7 inches (18 centimeters) were reported in Mississippi. Rare flurries were even reported in New Orleans.

"It's very, very abnormal and rare that we would get totals like that this time of year," said Sid King, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the Atlanta area. "It's really not even winter yet. I would not be surprised if we broke a lot of records."

By Sunday morning, Duke Energy was reporting 14,938 customers without power in North Carolina, down from the 22,340 customers without power overnight and from more than 39,000 earlier on Saturday. More than 334,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity Saturday afternoon in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. About 235,000 of those still in the dark were in Georgia.