RALEIGH — An epidemic of accidents afflicted the Triangle on Tuesday morning as police, state troopers and sheriff’s deputies had to handle crashes and spin-outs, but students were safe as Wake, Durham, Orange and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools all decided to keep buses off the roads.
The schools had planned on late openings, hoping that daylight would bring temperatures warm enough to make travel safe, but the mercury hung just below freezing well into the morning, and all-night freezing drizzle turned bridges into sliding boards for cars, trucks, tractor-trailers and even one City of Raleigh salt truck.
Johnston, Franklin and Chatham county schools opened late.
The National Weather Service extended a winter weather advisory for the entire Triangle until noon because “patchy freezing rain and occasional freezing drizzle would persist through mid to late morning.”
Cold air was stubbornly hanging over the region, forecasters said, and they reduced the predicted afternoon highs from the upper to the mid-30s for Durham and Chapel Hill.
There were no immediate reports of life-threatening injuries in crashes, and not all accidents involved collisions.
One Raleigh police officer told a colleague that he had witnessed seven cars go into skids at one time, but “somehow, through a miracle of God,” none collided.
State Department of Transportation trucks worked all morning to sand and salt trouble spots on the roads.
Durham police closed N.C. 54 near Interstate 40 for a time after a crash there, and later diverted traffic from a section of U.S. 70 near Holloway Street because of an icy bridge and an accident.
Raleigh officers handled 87 accidents between midnight and noon, compared with 19 a week ago, when there were no weather issues, spokesman Jim Sughrue said.
At one point during the morning, Sughrue said, police in the city were dealing with 20 accidents at one time.
A city salt truck lost traction and overturned on Fox Road where it crosses Interstate 540, officials said.
Glenwood Avenue was closed at Interstate 540 in west Raleigh until trucks could attack ice on bridges there.
Capital Boulevard was closed at the intersection of N.C. 96 north of Wake Forest at one point, DOT said, and Jones Sausage Road was closed at I-40.
Before dawn police attempted to slow drivers in the slick areas to protect themselves and cars already off the roads, using multiple cars to create displays of flashing blue lights.
In Vance County, the weather service said, the county 911 center reported numerous accidents on Interstate 85 because of icy bridges between the 209 and 217 mile markers early in the day.
Duke Energy reported it had a few hundred customers who had lost service in Randolph, Alamance and Granville counties.
The schools listed above have been reported delayed or closed to ABC11 Eyewitness News by school administrators. We may not have heard from every school with a closing or delay. If your school name does not appear and you suspect it may not be operating on schedule, please call your local school office directly for verification.