Snow threat gives students an afternoon at home

Posted December 18, 2009 7:01 a.m. EST
Updated December 18, 2009 5:52 p.m. EST

— Thousands of students were headed home and road crews were headed to work Friday ahead of a winter storm system that is already bringing snow to central North Carolina.

Many school systems in the Triangle planned to close early Friday. After-school activities and sporting events were also canceled across central North Carolina.

See all closings and delays.

"It was a pretty easy decision," said Mike Gilbert, with Orange County Public Schools. "You always want to keep the safety of students in mind. We take the necessary steps to make sure of that."

Parent Cyndy Mishoes said driving didn't concern her but she looked forward to some extra time with her daughter.

"I'm not worried about road conditions. I'm glad school let out early. We're going to have the rest of the afternoon together," Mishoes said.

"We'll just maybe make Christmas cookies and hang out at home," said parent Vickie Moore.

Statewide, Department of Transportation crews began prepping roads for the storm Wednesday. In the Triangle, DOT crews spread an anti-icing salt-brine mixture on major interstates and highways. Local transportation crews did the same in towns and cities.

Check out traffic conditions.

Some drivers said the first sign of salt is enough to keep them off the roads, while others said they are prepared to take on a little snow.

"I'm very cautious about going out, because I know what the conditions can be," driver Carol Newman said.

"I have an SUV, and it's all-wheel drive if I have to use it," driver Jay Schmitt said. "So that helps."

Winter weather driving tips

In Raleigh, a DOT staff of nearly two dozen is on standby for the weekend.

"It's going to be a lot of work for the guys here, a lot of long hours," DOT engineer Jason Holmes said. "We're prepared for it. We do it every winter."

Raleigh-Durham International Airport's snow and ice control plan will be activated once precipitation starts, officials said. The airport won't close, and airlines will make decisions individually about flight cancellations.

Holiday travelers are urged to contact their airline before heading to RDU.