Winter storm draws closer; travel problems likely Monday
Posted January 9, 2011 6:51 a.m. EST
Updated January 10, 2011 12:03 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A winter weather advisory kicked into effect Sunday evening for the majority of WRAL's viewing area, as road crews and Triangle residents prepared for an icy afternoon commute.
"Travel problems will most likely be an issue," said WRAL meteorologist Kim Deaner. Central North Carolina is expected to see up to an inch of accumulated snowfall and one-tenth of an inch of ice Monday.
WRAL Chief Meterologist Greg Fishel said it's hard to predict when snow will start falling Monday because a dry air system will trap flurries in mid-levels of the atmosphere until late afternoon.
"(By 7 a.m.), it'll be snowing a lot, but it won't be reaching the ground in all likelihood because of that dry air," Fishel said. "Now late in the afternoon the dry air will finally give up the fight and that's when snow is likely to start falling in and around the Triangle."
Northern counties may not see any flakes until midnight or later.
"As we head toward 10 o'clock, warmer air will switch the precipitation over to freezing rain and then, as mid-levels of the atmosphere dry out, lightening up to just freezing drizzle," Fishel said.
The freezing drizzle is likely to continue through the night and into Tuesday morning.
"The good news is that drizzle is not going to pile up a whole lot in terms of ice accumulation and so as a result, we don't expect massive power outages," Fishel said.
Snowfall was expected to be heavier in Hoke County, Moore County and the counties bordering South Carolina, Deaner said. There is a winter storm warning in effect for those areas, with up to three inches of accumulated snowfall expected.
The high temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport just barely cracked the freezing mark Sunday, which is well below normal for this time of year. The normal high for Jan. 9 in Raleigh is 50 degrees.
Road crews fueled up and ready to go
Road crews across the Triangle spent the weekend preparing for an icy Monday, and expected conditions to be worst around rush hour.
"Hopefully people will try to get out of work a little bit early and let us do our jobs," said Scott Hecht, Cary's public works director. "That becomes an extra challenge, more cars on the streets."
Hecht said Cary had about 60 trucks fueled up and ready to go Sunday.
North Carolina Dept. of Transportation crews were spreading brine on Triangle roadways throughout the weekend as well.
Schools in Cumberland, Hoke, Sampson, Scotland and Robeson counties have already closed for Monday. Durham Public Schools planned to dismiss three hours early, and Wake County schools will dismiss two and a half hours early.
Snow, unusual cold hinder travel throughout southeast
The southeast shivered Sunday under unusually cold conditions and travel was hindered because of snow, sleet and freezing rain that coated bridges and roads and caused hundreds of flight cancelations.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency in preparation for severe conditions. He said the weather is likely to cause power outages and busted water pipes.
Mississippi officials warned motorists early Sunday that ice was already accumulating on roads and bridges in many counties, creating hazardous driving conditions.
Joanne Culin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Jackson, Miss., expected the worst weather in Mississippi and Louisiana on Sunday and early Monday along the Interstate 20 corridor.
Northern parts of Mississippi could get 4 to 9 inches of snow, Culin said. The more dangerous conditions, however, are expected along I-20, because the precipitation is likely to be freezing rain and sleet, which make for dangerous driving conditions.
Culin said the weather system could push into Alabama late Sunday and early Monday. Georgia could start getting rain and snow by Sunday night.
Hundreds of flights were being canceled at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ahead of the icy weather.
Raleigh-Durham Internation Airport was not reporting any cancellations delays as of Sunday night, but a spokesperson said that could change Monday morning.