Winter weather blamed for 4 deaths around NC

Posted January 4, 2018 3:39 a.m. EST
Updated July 13, 2018 2:06 p.m. EDT

1:02 p.m.: Authorities have confirmed a fourth death as a result of Wednesday's winter storm.

Surf City police responded to a submerged vehicle submerged in a canal at about 1:45 a.m.and found Dax Christopher Baker, 20, dead inside. Authorities believe the weather was a factor in the crash.

10:25 a.m.: North Carolina State Highway Patrol officials said authorities have responded to more than 1,000 calls for service since the winter weather began on Wednesday—700 of those calls were traffic related.

Gov. Cooper said the state of emergency declared Wednesday will remain in effect to help counties that need it.

10:15 a.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday that the winter storm that blanket North Carolina in snow is blamed for three deaths.

Two men died Wednesday night in Moore County when their pickup truck slid off a bridge and landed upside down in a creek, and another person died in Beaufort.

9:45 a.m.: Many museums and parks around the Triangle closed their doors Thursday as an overnight snow made traveling dangerous.

Marbles Kids Museum and its IMAX theater in Raleigh and the Museum of Life and Science in Durham were closed among several other public attractions. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro was also closed for the day.

9:00 a.m.: The snow is gone, but winter weather advisories will last into the weekend.

Snowfall Totals for Jan. 3

WRAL meteorologist Elizbeth Gardner said the last of the precipitation has moved out of the region, and there's not another chance of anything until Monday, when we could see some rain. Even though the snow has moved out, though, the advisories remain.

"The winter weather advisory is in effect for slick roads until Saturday morning at 7 a.m. because temperatures are not going to climb above freezing," Gardner said.

The City of Fayetteville also closed its government offices Thursday due to the weather.

8:35 a.m.: North Carolina State Parks closed the following parks for Thursday:

– Fort Fisher State Recreation

– Area Goose Creek State Park

– Dismal Swamp State Park

– Jockey’s Ridge State Park

– Jones Lake State Park

– Hammocks Beach State Park

– Eno River State Park

8:20 a.m.: Pender County offices and the North Carolina Education Lottery's Raleigh headquarters will be closed Thursday due to the weather. The Lottery also closed its Greenville and Wilmington regional offices.

8:15 a.m.: St. Augustine's University announced Thursday morning that it would be closed for the day due to the weather, though students are on winter break until Monday.

The City of Wilson also closed its administrative offices due to road conditions.

8:10 a.m.: The Durham County Sheriff's Office temporarily closed two intersections in the county due to inclement weather:

– Ellis Road at So Hi Road

– Infinity Road at Windermere Drive

8:00 a.m.: Wayne County and Cumberland County authorities said there have been several reports of crashes in their respective counties, but there have been no serious injuries as road conditions gradually improve across the region.

Original story:

Two traffic deaths were reported early Thursday morning among many other minor crashes around central and eastern North Carolina after a winter storm dumped snow along the East Coast overnight.

Authorities said two men died in Moore County Wednesday night when their pickup truck slid off a bridge and flipped over in a frozen creek below. Another car slid off Interstate 95, and a tractor-trailer crashed Thursday morning on Interstate 85 in Durham County.

Moore County was hit especially hard by the snow, getting about 3 inches of accumulation by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday nightThe snow stymied traffic on U.S. Highway 1 in Southern Pines and Aberdeen where drivers were either stopped or slowed for about 10 miles. Some people were stranded for hours.

Other people got out of their cars and walked.

Now that the storm has moved out for most people around the central part of the state, though, the remaining dangers are slippery roads and black ice, said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

Many of the major routes and interstates, like Interstate 40 and Wade Av around the Triangle were passable as North Carolina Department of Transportation crews worked through Wednesday and overnight to keep the roads clear.

Side roads and minor thoroughfares were not as clean early Thursday.

"As it always is with these storms, the major routes are in fairly good shape throughout he Triangle area, at least," said WRAL traffic reporter Brian Shrader. "Your secondary roads, city streets, are probably not going to be in such good shape."

Snow moves out, leaves wide-ranging effects

Flakes were done falling early Thursday morning for most of the Triangle region and counties around Fayetteville, but counties farther to the east and along the coast were still getting some accumulation.

Counties around Fayetteville reported 3 to 6 inches of snow, but totals tapered off in Wake County to about 1.5 inches. Photos showed a white blanket coating towns and cities from Wilmington to Durham.

Many major school districts delayed classes or canceled them altogether ahead of the winter weather, including Cumberland, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake County Schools. But even with widespread cancellations and closures, Raleigh-Durham International Airport said was not anticipating major delays, though dozens of flights departing from the Northeast were canceled or delayed. Some airlines offered travel waivers for Jan. 4 and Jan. 5, the airport said.

The weather also prompted late starts for government employees around the region. City of Fayetteville employees will report to work at 10 a.m., and facilities in Clayton will open at the same time, even as the National Weather Service issues or extends winter weather advisories through Saturday morning for many counties in the region.

Additional winter weather advisories were issued for: Wake County, Cumberland County, Johnston County and several others. The NWS also issued a wind chill advisory for Orange County.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday called for a state of emergency in counties affected by the storm to be able to respond more quickly to areas that needed help.

North Carolina State University suspended normal work at the college until 11 a.m., but students don't return to class from winter break until Jan. 8. The university said all non-mandatory employees should not report to work until 11 a.m.

The NCDOT said 874 employees used 3,701 tons of salt, 527 tons of sand/salt mix and 192,000 gallons of salt brine to help keep the roads in shape.

National impact

The massive storm began two days ago in the Gulf of Mexico, first hitting the Florida panhandle. It has prompted thousands of canceled flights, shuttered schools and businesses and sparked fears of coastal flooding and power outages.

Wind gusts of 50 mph to 60 mph, strong enough to cause downed trees and power lines, are predicted in places where the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings. They include the Delmarva Peninsula, which includes parts of Delaware, Virginia and Maryland; coastal New Jersey; eastern Long Island, New York; and coastal eastern New England.

Winter storm warnings stretched as far south as South Carolina on Wednesday night, but National Weather Service Meteorologist Dan Peterson said the storm should be over by early Thursday in the southern states. For most of Thursday, he said, the storm will impact the Northeast, with Boston possibly getting up to 14 inches of snow. The storm will then be followed by a wave of bracing cold.

"We think there are going to be scattered records broken for low temperatures," said Peterson, adding how the weather service expects 28 major cities across New England, eastern New York and the mid-Atlantic states will have record low temperatures by dawn on Sunday.

Snow in Chatham County

State and local officials urged residents to prepare for possible power losses and stay home so crews can clear streets and roads of what could be as much as foot or more of snow in some places. Thousands of Duke Energy customers lost power Tuesday around North Carolina as frigid temperatures put too much stress on the utility's equipment.

There were concerns in Boston and elsewhere that if roads aren't properly cleared, they could freeze into cement-like icy messes by Friday, given the expected low temperatures. In other areas, plummeting temperatures already have caused water mains to burst.

The number of deaths linked to the relentless cold had risen to at least 17 on Wednesday. Two homeless men were found dead in Houston, where police said the deaths were believed to be the result of "exposure to frigid weather." Deaths also were reported in Mississippi, Michigan and other states.