RALEIGH, N.C. — The latest updates on a winter storm hitting the Triangle.
6 p.m.: NCDOT has closed both directions of Interstate 85 in Warren County because of multiple crashes. The highway is expected to reopen by 8 p.m. Icy conditions also closed U.S. Highway 70 at Jones Sausage Road in Garner and Amelia Church Road in Clayton.
5:50 p.m.: North Carolina State University has canceled classes on Thursday. Meanwhile, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has suspended operations until noon Thursday.
5:25 p.m.: Southwest Airlines has canceled all operations at Raleigh-Durham International Airport through noon Thursday. RDU officials said other carriers have canceled some flights, but many others will arrive and depart as scheduled. Officials advise people to check with their airline about their specific flight before heading to RDU.
5:10 p.m.: Gov. Roy Cooper continues to urge people to stay off North Carolina roads, as slushy surfaces will turn to ice overnight. "The snow was beautiful today, but it will be treacherous tonight," he said. The State Highway patrol has responded to 2,200 calls statewide since midnight, including 1,600 crashes. More than 30,000 homes and businesses are without power.
Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said crews are working in 2,100 trucks statewide and have made good progress keeping interstates clear. The crews have dumped 16,000 tons of salt on North Carolina roads since 7 a.m., he said.
5 p.m.: Noting that snow totals have far exceeded forecasts, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said, "This event has really outdone itself." Fishel noted that a second bad of snow could come through later Wednesday as the system wraps some moisture back around to the west.
4:40 p.m.: Durham police say they have responded to 54 crashes since 7:30 a.m., but no serious injuries were reported.
4:30 p.m.: Snow totals as reported to the National Weather Service have ballooned in the past couple of hours. Wake County now has 2-4 inches; Durham has 4-7 inches; Orange County has at least 5 inches, with Carrboro reporting 8.5 inches; and Chatham County reported up to 9.5 inches.
4:05 p.m.: Crews will continue plowing Wake County highways until about 8 p.m., then salt will be spread on roadways overnight to help with melting on Thursday, NCDOT maintenance engineer Jason Dunigan said. About 2,000 tons of salt have already been dumped on Wake County roads, and DOT has another 3,200 tons in reserve, he said.
"It's coming off pretty good," Dunigan said of plowing efforts, adding that roads have to be plowed over and over as snow continues to fall.
4 p.m.: The Wake County Public School System has followed the lead of other area school districts in giving students another day off Thursday.
3:50 p.m.: Durham County is now the site of the widest power outages, with more than 9,300 customers out, according to Duke Energy. Lee County has about 3,300 customers without power, followed by Chatham County at 2,900 and Orange County at 2,100.
3:30 p.m.: GoRaleigh will suspend service early, with the last buses leaving the station at 5:30 p.m. Any bus routes departing between 5 and 5:30 p.m. that make connections with GoRaleigh connector routes will make those connections to ensure riders get to their destinations, officials said.
3:20 p.m.: Durham Public Schools is the largest school district so far to give students another snow day on Thursday.
3:10 p.m.: The National Weather Service has extended its winter weather warning for central North Carolina until 1 a.m. Thursday.
Because of growing power outages, Chatham County authorities will open a shelter at 5 p.m. at the Council on Aging’s Eastern Senior Center, at 365 N.C. Highway 87 in Pittsboro, just north of the roundabout. Residents are encouraged to call 919-545-8164 in advance to let staff know someone is coming.
3 p.m.: Add Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and Chatham County Schools to the no-school list for Thursday.
2:55 p.m.: Power outages are mounting across the Triangle and statewide. Duke Energy is reporting more than 4,300 customers in Orange County are without power, as are 2,800 in Durham County, 2,500 in Chatham County and 1,400 in Moore County. Wake County has only 400 customers affected by an outage. Statewide, about 17,250 customers are without power.
2:45 p.m.: More area schools districts are canceling classes for Thursday, including Harnett County Schools, Person County Schools, Granville County Schools and Lee County Schools.
2:30 p.m.: The State Highway Patrol responded to 1,400 calls for service statewide between midnight and noon, including more than 1,000 crashes. Sixty-five of those crashes were in the Triangle, Sgt. Michael Baker said. Fortunately, no fatalities have been reported.
2:10 p.m.: According to the National Weather Service, snow totals in the Triangle range from a quarter-inch in southwest Raleigh to 5.8 inches in Carrboro. About 6 inches was reported in northwest Granville County.
1:50 p.m.: Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews is urging people to stay off area roads as snow continues to fall. Despite the efforts of NCDOT and local roads crews, clearing area highways "is kind of a futile effort" until the storm passes, he said. Durham police reported numerous vehicles have slid off local roads and gotten stuck.
1:40 p.m.: Orange County Schools will be closed again Thursday because of the snow.
1:35 p.m.: Duke Energy says more than 9,100 customers in North Carolina are without power. Durham County has the most, at nearly 1,900, followed by Orange County with about 1,700 and Moore County with 1,400. Fewer than 900 Wake County customers have reported an outage.
1:30 p.m.: NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott said road crews are plowing in all Triangle-area counties, concentrating on the interstates and other major roads while the snow is continuing. Once the snow stops and those roads are considered clear, snow-clearing efforts can move over to other U.S. routes, then N.C. routes and the busier secondary roads, he said. As the temperature drops and makes plowing difficult Wednesday evening, the crews that have been in since overnight will head home to get some rest, and a smaller number of workers will come in to salt roads and treat trouble spots with salt and sand overnight, Abbott said. Then, the full group will return early Thursday morning and resume full clearing.
1:20 p.m.: Temperatures in Fayetteville are in the middle 30s, and a steady rain is falling. WRAL News reporter Bryan Mims complained about the lack of rain as he drove around town in search of flakes and found a number of businesses closed in anticipation of snow that hasn't arrived.
12:45 p.m.: Temperatures in Raleigh are holding steady at 33 degrees, which is too warm for much of the snow to stick to the ground.
As the snow falls faster, though, the bottom layer won't melt fast enough, and snow will begin to accumulate.
Temperatures will begin to fall through the afternoon, eventually bottoming out at 16 degrees overnight before a warmup to 39 on Thursday.
12:20 p.m.: Despite a strong snowfall with big, fat snowflakes, above-freezing temperatures are keeping much of the snow from sticking to pavement around Raleigh.
12:10 p.m.: The slow-moving system has dumped inches of snow around central North Carolina, turning it into what WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel called a "very reputable event."
The snow will continue to fall in some areas through the afternoon and into the evening, Fishel said, with "decent" intensity. As the intensity tapers off, though, flurries will continue after dark for some counties around Wake County.
11:45 a.m.: NCDOT spokesman Steve Abbott said the brine that crews put down before the snow began held up well despite a light rain that rolled through earlier. It will help keep roads clear of snow, and if snow does pile up, the brine will make it easier for crews to plow.
Some major roads and interstates were passable due to the treatment, Abbott said.
11:20 a.m.: Potential snow totals are climbing again as the winter storm blanketing central North Carolina slows down.
The National Weather Service projects a few counties to the north and west of Raleigh could get 6 to 8 inches of snow from the storm. Most of Wake County and Raleigh is expected to get 4 to 6 inches.
"It's really just exploded into a much bigger system over the last 48 hours," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.
11:15 a.m.: Power outages in Durham climbed to almost 750 before noon, many of which were caused by falling trees or branches, according to Duke Energy's online power outage map. The outages were mostly around Duke University Hospital.
Another 360 customers were in the dark in Morrisville. It's unclear what caused those outages.
10:40 a.m.: More than 600 Duke Energy customers in Durham were without power before 10:45 a.m., according to the utility's online reports.
It's unclear what caused the power outage.
10:35 a.m.: WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said the storm has slowed down, which could increase the snow totals around the region.
10:25 a.m.: The snow has made it's way into Raleigh and is closing in on Wake Forest.
WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said it will get to the Interstate 95 corridor by noon.
"Right along the I-95 corridor, you should start to see it at lunchtime," Gardner said.
The snow could begin to ease up around 3 p.m. in Raleigh, but flurries will linger into the late afternoon and evening.
10 a.m.: NCDOT officials said anti-icing operations began Monday.
The department used 1,200 employees, 600 trucks, 2 million gallons of brine and 5,000 pounds of salt and sand across the state.
The North Carolina State Highway patrol said it answered 700 calls for service and 546 calls for collisions across the Tar Heel State.
9:45 a.m.: The chance of getting four or more inches of snow is up to 80 percent for some areas around the Triangle, said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.
A pocket of snow to the northwest of Raleigh could see the higher snow total, according to the Weather Prediction Center.
9:30 a.m.: Wake County courts will be closed Wednesday due to the weather, officials said.
9:15 a.m.: Snow has moved into the Triangle, coating roads and highways around the area, but Fayetteville is still waiting for it's first hint of flakes.
WRAL reporter Bryan Mims is in Drive 5, surveying streets, which are still clear of any snow.
8:50 a.m.: Conditions on Interstate 85 between Durham and Hillsborough are getting worse as the brunt of the snow makes it into the Triangle.
Snow could be seen accumulating on the highway, covering at least one lane completely.
8:30 a.m.: Snow inched its way into the Triangle, coating grassy areas like the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and the shoulders of highways.
The early part of the storm dropped light rain that changed over to snow, and it could dump 2 to 4 inches before it's finished. WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said roads will be slick as the snow picks up, and there could be patchy power outages around the region.
8:15 a.m.: Snow has moved into several Triangle-area towns, including Durham where the grass off the Durham Freeway was beginning to show patches of white.
Chatham and Orange counties were also seeing snow around 8 a.m.
7:45 a.m.: Interstate 85 near the Orange-Durham county line showed a clear picture of the snow's approach.
Just after 7:30 a.m., NCDOT traffic cameras in the area—about 1.5 miles apart—showed very different scenes.
7:30 a.m.: A few flakes are falling in northern Durham as the storm ambles into the western edge of the Triangle. Roads are still clear, but conditions will get worse as the snow gets heavier.
7:10 a.m.: The National Weather Service says the Triad is already getting some snow despite the clear roads around the Triangle, but 3 to 6 inches are expected across much of central North Carolina.
7 a.m.: A layer of above-freezing air hovering over the Triangle is keeping snow at bay, but as more snow begins to fall and cool the air, it will begin to find its way to the ground.
The storm slowed down some early in the morning, keeping the leading edge on the west side of Wake County for a couple of hours.
6 a.m.: The first flakes were reported in Roxboro around 6 a.m., though most counties to the east and around the Triangle had not yet seen any snow.
A winter storm warning covered most of central North Carolina on Wednesday as a storm threatening inches of snow from the Piedmont through the Triangle barreled toward the region.
Light rain began falling around 4 a.m. Wednesday morning as the edge of the storm nudged its way into Raleigh. WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said the storm was likely to begin as rain, lasting several hours, before switching over to snow.
"The question is, when are we going to see it change over to snow?" Gardner said.
Some forecast models show the flip later than others, but Gardner said it will begin to change over around 7 a.m.
Winter storm warnings were issued for Wake, Durham, Cumberland and Johnston counties that began at 4 a.m. Wednesday and extend through Wednesday night. Other counties were under a winter weather advisory, including Gaston, Iredell, Sampson, Wayne and Yancey counties.
Wake, Durham, Cumberland, Johnston and Orange counties all announced classes were canceled Wednesday for students. Several colleges, including Duke University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University, also canceled classes Wednesday.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Tuesday declared a State of Emergency for counties in the path of the storm
How much snow?
The snowfall potential is greatest for Raleigh and adjacent counties heading up to the Virginia line, Gardner said. Many counties to the south, including Cumberland County, could see 2 to 3 inches throughout the day, as well.
The heaviest snow could pile up to 4 or 5 inches in some areas, though Gardner said there could be pockets of even higher amounts that don't show up on the forecast. But most people, Gardner added,, will at least get some powder.
"I think everybody has a better chance of seeing half an inch of snow," Gardner said.
The storm slowed down from what forecasts showed on Tuesday, as models show it lingering over Raleigh until around 9 p.m.
"Again, the longer it snows, the heavier some of those totals may be," Gardner said.