Published: 2009-03-01 06:32:00
Updated: 2009-03-09 17:13:13
Posted March 1, 2009 6:32 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:13 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Snow and sleet started to accumulate in central North Carolina in the waning hours of Sunday evening and was expected to continue to fall until about 3 or 4 a.m. "By 7 a.m., it's done," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said.
"There are two things about this system that make it difficult to predict who's going to get what," Fishel said. "First, the exact track of the upper low ... is going right across the Triangle.
Secondly, the system is weakening as it progresses toward the north and east, so the snow pattern is changing and evolving as well."
By 2 a.m. Monday, the system started to weaken but “it still has the punch left to produce some pretty good snowfall rates,” Fishel said.
"The Triangle is on the eastern fringe of the system," Fishel said early Monday. He warned snow amounts will vary across the Triangle.
Fishel predicted Raleigh would see about 3 inches of snow by Monday morning; Roxboro would get about 4 inches and the greatest accumulation would be seen to the west of Greensboro.
"Don't take the numbers literally," he cautioned. "The forecast serves to give an idea of who will get the most and who will get the least."
The National Weather Service predicted that the Triangle could get 3 to 6 inches and that eastern counties could get 1 to 2 inches.
Schools in Wake, Durham, Moore and Cumberland counties will open 2 hours late Monday, officials have decided. In Orange County, officials have closed school. Students in Mecklenburg County, Va., were the first to gain a day off from the coming storm. That district posted a closure at 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
Winter storm warnings and advisories cover most of North Carolina's 100 counties through mid-day on Monday. Fishel forecasts the snow would continue overnight and taper off Monday morning.
“By Monday morning, it's going to be mighty, mighty cold and wet roads are going to become slushy and icy,” Fishel said.
Whatever ice doesn't melt during the day Monday is likely to turn to ice again by Monday night where lows are expected in the teens, Fishel said.
Viewers e-mailed and called WRAL News, eager to report as the day’s rain changed to sleet and snow Sunday evening and early Monday.
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Early Monday, snow was sticking to cars and the ground in Rocky Mount, viewer Leslie reported. "The flakes are large and it is falling rather quickly."
Around 11 p.m., reports of snow started coming in from residents in north Raleigh.
John Burns said "nice, fat flakes" were falling rapidly in the Brookdale area around midnight.
Several viewers reported heavy snow falling in Wake Forest before 10 p.m. In Fuquay-Varina, Marisa Benton e-mailed that light snow was falling in big, fat flakes.
John Lobenstein of Harnett County saw "intermittent flurries" at his home near Johnston County Road around that time as well.
Viewers in Vance County were among the first to report fat snowflakes falling early Sunday afternoon.
“It is snowing moderately in Person County,” Drew e-mailed just before 6 p.m. “Finally we got the change over.”
“Big flakes are falling in Person County in the Allensville area. The ground is almost covered,” viewer Scott Spencer reported.
The changeover happened earlier farther to the west. In Mebane, sidewalks and roads began icing up before 8 p.m., according to viewer Jennifer Wesoloski.
Viewers in Orange County began reporting sleet, freezing rain and some flakes in the 8 o'clock hour. Snow was falling as far south as West End in Moore County.
In Siler City, snow was "pouring down," one viewer e-mailed.
Melissa Sumner reported that roads were bad in Roxboro. "The snow is mixing in with heavy sleet and freezing rain," she said.
WRAL's crew in Roxboro recorded sleet accumulating on cars in a parking lot where they were preparing for a live shot.