Storm clogs RDU flights, some N.C. roads

Posted December 19, 2009 4:26 a.m. EST
Updated December 20, 2009 7:54 p.m. EST

— While the Triangle enjoyed merely wet roads Saturday, northern counties dealt with snow-covered roads, and an East Coast storm forced delays and cancellations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

At RDU, Delta canceled flights to the New York area, United canceled flights to Dulles Airport in Washington, D.C., and Continental canceled flights to Newark Airport in New Jersey.

Delays and cancellations also affected other destinations, including Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, Baltimore and Cincinnati, said airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer.

Richard Galt said he was surprised at the wait before his wife and 6-month-old girl's flight finally took off for New York.

"I'd been watching, and I thought it was not going to be an issue getting out," Galt said. "I'm trying not to be frustrated. I don't have it as bad as some others I think here."

Barbara Graves Wilson anxiously awaited her mother's flight from New York.

"I'm just thanking God my mother's flight is not canceled," Wilson said. "We've got a nice holiday planned. ... It's always a nice when my mother's in town."

Travelers should check with their airline before going to the airport.

Northern N.C. roads blanketed with snow

In Person County, 7 inches of snow forced Roxboro to cancel its holiday parade Saturday afternoon.

Main Street and its sidewalks weren't cleared enough for the parade and there won't be enough time to reschedule it before Christmas, police said.

"With the snow messing things up, there's not going to be any parade today, and I know that's going to be hard for people," Michael McKeithan, of Roxboro, said.

Crews worked throughout Person County to clear the roads. The main roads were slushy but passable, but secondary roads were still unplowed, slippery and icy Saturday morning.

"It was swervy," Jaimes Raines, of Roxboro, described driving Saturday. "We didn't slide too much, but mostly (made) a lot of swerve moves."

Police responded to only minor wrecks Saturday, mostly because "everyone's at home in their pajamas," a sheriff's deputy said. The night before, deputies counted a wreck every three minutes, Person County Sheriff Dewey Jones said.

In Hillsborough, snow and slush still lay on the roads Saturday morning.

"I've seen a lot of accidents. I don't know why people don't stay at home," said Department of Transportation driver Thurman Woods. "We just appreciate it if they could just respect the DOT department and give us a chance to do what we got to do. And then the roads will be more safe for them."

Kathy Reed was among many travelers who weathered out the storm at the Holiday Inn Express.

"I stopped for dinner about 10 miles up the road, and when I came out, it had gotten so much worse so fast. Trucks were pulled off on the side of the road," Reed said. "I just said, 'Next sign that says lodging, I'm pulling off.' So this is where I ended up."

Other counties in the WRAL viewing area also saw measurable amounts of snow from the storm: 3.8 inches in Alamance County, 3 inches in Vance County, 1.3 inches in Durham County, an inch in Roanoke Rapids and Chapel Hill, and a trace in Franklin, Johnston, Lee, Wake and Moore counties.

Rain had washed much of that snow away by Saturday morning.

Snowstorm hits mountains hard

In the mountains, 17 inches of snow fell in Boone and 14 inches blanketed Asheville.

The National Weather Service said more snow could fall overnight in the western North Carolina mountains. And winter storm warnings remained in place into Sunday morning along the Tennessee border.

Progress Energy reported outages affecting more than 57,000 customers on Saturday, with 46,500 of those in Buncombe County. Duke Energy had more than 19,000 customers without power in North Carolina, mostly in the western mountains.