Snow causes dozens of morning wrecks

Posted January 18, 2013 9:31 a.m. EST
Updated January 18, 2013 2:26 p.m. EST

— Wet roads left behind by the quick-moving storm system that brought rain and snow to the Triangle caused some problems during the Friday morning commute as temperatures hovered near freezing.

Road conditions were not an issue before dawn, but as skies cleared from west to east, temperatures dipped and helped any lingering water freeze on bridges, overpasses and some on and off ramps off local highways.

By 8 a.m., dozens of fender benders and minor wrecks had been reported, and traffic was crawling along Interstate 40 and Interstate 540 in Durham and Wake counties.

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol responded to 122 crash calls during the morning rush across 14 counties in central North Carolina. Troopers answered 57 calls about wrecks in Wake County and another 15 in Durham, according to First Sgt. Jeff Gordon.

Wet roads were partly to blame for two crashes within minutes of each other on South Saunders Street in Raleigh Thursday evening, involving nine cars total. One person was hospitalized with minor injuries, authorities said.

Conditions began improving after 9 a.m. as temperatures climbed through the 30s and toward the forecast high of 44 degrees.

Snowfall associated with the storm system proved to be light in most places, with 1 to 2 inches piling up in most parts of the Triangle overnight. Some parts of Person and Granville counties ended up with closer to 4 inches before the storm tracked off the North Carolina coast, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

"We saw just about what we expected," Gardner said. "Spots in and around Roxboro saw about 4 inches, but much of Wake County, which was one of those border counties, only saw a dusting in most spots."

Rain fell throughout the day Thursday, switching to sleet and snow around 8 p.m. in counties north and west of the Triangle and about 9 p.m. in Durham and Chapel Hill. Snow fell sporadically Thursday night around Raleigh, and northern parts of Wake County were blanketed in white.

Many school systems, including Wake, Chatham, Halifax, Warren and Moore counties, decided to delay classes for two hours Friday morning in preparation for the slick conditions.

Durham, Vance, Person, Orange, Franklin and Granville County schools closed entirely.

Magellan Charter School in Raleigh posted a one-hour delay and Louisburg College opened at 10 a.m. Fort Bragg also opened late Friday morning, and the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro will be closed to the public.

The National Weather Service canceled a winter storm warning for Wake, Durham, Chatham, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Orange, Person, Nash, Lee, Moore, Vance, Warren and several other central North Carolina counties about 2:30 a.m.

Harnett, Johnston, Wilson, Wayne and Edgecombe counties were a few of several other North Carolina counties under a winter weather advisory, which was also canceled by the weather service overnight.