Snow makes last push through region
Snow that has fallen steadily across the Triangle on Saturday is coming to a quick end. But the threat of black ice remains as temperatures are expected to drop into the 20s overnight.Posted — Updated
"The moisture is actually pivoting back to the west now," WRAL Chief Meteorolgist Greg Fishel said. "It's now snowing in and around Roxboro. If you're in Wake Forest, it may start to come down hard."
It may begin snowing again in Durham and even Raleigh, he said.
"This system continues to be full of surprises," Fishel said.
The National Weather Service has issued a black ice advisory for most areas through 10 a.m. Sunday, when any lingering ice should melt.
A second band of snow expected to sweep in from Charlotte has fizzled out, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. That means no more snow is on its way.
"Snow is over in Durham and Chapel Hill, except for a few leftover flurries," he said. "It will be ending in Wake County within the hour."
After that last flake falls, he said, what matters is "whether the water evaporates off the roads or freezes."
Precipitation remaining on the roadways increases the potential for black ice overnight and into Sunday morning.
"Anything wet that has fallen today will freeze," WRAL meteorologist Aimee Wilmoth said.
Regional temperatures will dip into the 20s overnight and will hover around freezing by 7 a.m., increasing the potential for slick roadways. The melting process won't start until about 9 a.m.
Authorities are encouraging motorists to use caution and slow down.
"There's a disturbance in the upper atmosphere that has generated thundersnow in the Charlotte area," he said. "That disturbance will enhance the snowfall in the Triangle area, probably between 7 and 9 p.m."
As that band of snow moves into the region, some spots could pick up another inch or two.
The greatest accumulation measured so far today has been 2.5 inches in Buies Creek. Fishel said any accumulation has been on grass or secondary, interior roadways. Along main roads, snow is sticking briefly and melting, he said.
The State Highway Patrol in Raleigh said there were no significant increases in accidents due to weather. Meanwhile, state Department of Transportation officials said crews will be reporting for duty about 6 p.m. to head out with salt and sand trucks.
About 20 trucks will be dispatched initially, officials said, and more will be added if necessary.
Road conditions have not been an issue as of yet, but that could change during the afternoon as temperatures continue to fall to near freezing.
No major issues have been reported on area roadways, but slick spots could develop during the late morning and afternoon as temperatures continue to fall through the mid-30s to near freezing.
Snow flurries began falling in western Triangle counties as early as 7:30 a.m., coming down heavily in parts of Person, Orange, Durham, Chatham and Moore counties at times. Spots in western Wake County began seeing flurries about 9:45 a.m.
Because the snow arrived earlier than expected in the western parts of the Triangle, the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for Alamance, Chatham, Lee, Moore and Orange counties from 9:20 a.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Sunday.
The snow that falls early in the day Saturday shouldn't cause serious issues on area roadways, but as temperatures fall during the afternoon, slick spots could develop, especially on bridges and overpasses. Overnight, any remaining snow or water on the roadways will freeze.
"Temperatures here at the ground could easily be above freezing during much, if not this entire event, which would nullify the chance of it causing any road problems during the day," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "Saturday night, with the leftover water on the streets and temperatures going down into the 20s ... that really may be the bigger issue with this system, not so much the snow accumulation."
Because rain started to fall before any snow, state and local transportation officials said they didn't send out trucks to brine the roads ahead of time. However, spreader operators will be on standby Saturday, in case the weather forecast worsens.
Trooper Scott Baker with the North Carolina Highway Patrol said he hopes not to see a repeat of the wintry mix that caused slippery roads last month, leading to hundreds of accidents.
"You have more calls than you have troopers," Baker said. "We handle the most serious calls we can."
Todd McGowan, owner of Haddock Collision Center in Cary, said the icy roads on Jan. 25 meant an uptick in business at his garage.
"I would probably guess 300 (damaged vehicles) directly attributable to that ice storm," he said.
The Highway Patrol is urging drivers to stay off the roads if conditions get slick.
"Stay inside," Baker said. "If you do go out, exercise caution."
Highs Sunday will climb into the low 40s under abundant sunshine.
Average temperatures will return early next week, with daytime highs topping out in the low 50s for most of the work week.
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