Pupils in most Triangle school districts got a day off Monday thanks to the weekend’s freezing rain and snow that left side streets and less-traveled roads with ice problems, but zero-degree wind chills did not develop this morning thanks to calm winds, the National Weather Service showed.
The thermometer read 11 degrees at Raleigh-Durham International Airport at 6 a.m., however.
Officials urged everyone who could stay off the roads to do so because of ice.
A predicted high temperature just short of the freezing mark kept a winter weather advisory in place, but sunny skies will help with some melting while the area waits for warmer weather that’s predicted to return on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s forecast calls for a high temperature in the low to mid-40s, and temperatures will mostly stay above freezing both night and day for the rest of the week, the weather service said. The air at ground level could get below freezing over areas of ice and snow Tuesday night, however.
An advisory warning of hazardous travel conditions remains through noon Tuesday, however.
A driver died Sunday morning when a car slid off an interstate and down an embankment in Montgomery County south of Asheboro, Gov. Roy Cooper said in a news conference Sunday afternoon in which he warned against unnecessary driving. It was the first reported fatality as a result of this weekend’s icy weather. Two others were seriously injured in the accident, Cooper said.
“The highway patrol has seen a spike in the number of accidents today, particularly in the Triangle,” Cooper said. “A lot of people are seeing the sun and ... feeling more confident about getting back on the roads. But temperatures remain below freezing, and it’s going re-freeze tonight. Do not risk driving unless it is necessary.”
Sgt. Michael Baker of the State Highway Patrol said the agency had responded to 1,324 collisions and 2,828 calls for service between midnight Jan. 7 and 3 p.m. Sunday,
Ice and snow from Friday and Saturday weren’t going anywhere on Sunday, with an expected high of 26 degrees and a low that could hit single digits at just 9 degrees.
With the wind chill, the National Weather Service had expected the temperature could feel like zero degrees Sunday night, or as low as five below.
Ice and snow creating dangerous conditions on local roadways weren’t expected to change even into midweek, according to a winter weather advisory from the weather service, which forecast an arctic air mass building in the area through Monday lingering into Tuesday morning.
The weather service warned of frostbite and hypothermia from prolonged exposure to the cold and slick roads and walkways from earlier snow and ice. Temperatures were expected to remain well below freezing through noon Tuesday.
Wake Tech Community College and N.C. State, as well as public school systems in the Triangle, canceled classes Monday.
The weather service released snowfall totals for Jan. 6-7 for North Carolina on Sunday.
Oak Ridge led the Tar Heel state with 11 inches of snow. High Point and Lenoir got 10. Greensboro measured 8 inches. North Durham received 7 inches. Wake Forest got a little more than 3 inches. Cary saw 2 inches accumulate, as did south Durham. The Raleigh area measured about half an inch, though some areas of the Triangle saw more.
Two hikers lost in the Shining Rock Wilderness area in Haywood County in western North Carolina were rescued Saturday night after helicopter crews and nearly 100 rescuers from more than two dozen local, state and federal agencies joined the search. The hikers called 911 for help Friday and had been missing since. N.C. State Highway Patrol and National Guard helicopter crews found them using thermal imaging.
The condition of the hikers was not immediately released, but Cooper said in Sunday afternoon’s press conference that “they had hypothermia, and pretty much everyone accepts the fact that had they not been found when they were, they would not have made it through the night with windchills like they were.”
For Monday’s commute, N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott said major roads should be in good condition, but secondary roads will still be hazardous.
“The primary roads should be in pretty good shape after we work through today, thanks to temps getting high enough that salt works on ice, allowing our trucks to push it off the roadways,” he said. “And we expect to get to some of the busier secondary roads ... Snow and ice-covered secondary and neighborhood roads will still be covered, many into Tuesday.”
North Carolina National Guardsmen were working Saturday and Sunday to help stranded motorists and to aid local law enforcement and state troopers by providing transportation for essential medical personnel and supplies.
Travelers can call 511 or go to drivenc.gov for up-to-date road conditions, including lane and road closures.
The governor warned against travel, but for those who must, the state highway patrol recommends that drivers reduce speed, leave plenty of room between vehicles, use caution on bridges and overpasses and don’t use the brakes if sliding.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office said at about 11:15 a.m. that deputies had responded to at least 12 drivers who lost control of their vehicles and ended up on the side of the road or in ditches. At least one person had been transported to the hospital after slipping and falling on ice, though no serious injuries had been reported.
Durham Police said Sunday that they had responded to seven weather-related wrecks since midnight. Most local law enforcement asked motorists to stay off the roads.
Towns, cities and counties including Durham and Chapel Hill reported crews working to clear roadways and sidewalks on Sunday, noting that main roads appeared clear but secondary roads still were hazardous.
By Sunday, N.C. Department of Transportation crews had spread nearly 3.7 million gallons of brine and 2,897 tons of salt-sand mix statewide and had worked to clear roadways with more than 2,300 employees and 2,208 trucks and graders.
Raleigh-Durham International Airport was trying to get back to normal schedules Sunday, but Southwest Airlines canceled all flights out of RDU due to icy conditions and about 20 flights were canceled on other airlines as of about 6 a.m. Sunday.
The airport said its roads were extremely slick and it expected reduced services Sunday from taxis, Uber, Lyft, hotel shuttles, car services and other transportation.
Chapel Hill Transit buses were running with delays and some detours, the town said in a news release Sunday.
Duke Energy reported several isolated power outages in the Triangle.
In Wake, Durham, Johnston and Orange counties, about 750 customers remained without power by 5 p.m. Sunday. The vast majority of those without power – 704 customers – were in Durham County, the highest number still without power in any of the state’s 100 counties.
A vehicle caused outages near Research Triangle Park just before 5 a.m. Sunday morning. Twelve hours later, about 660 customers near the site of the incident, at the corner of Miami Boulevard and Lumley Road, were still without power.
“As best we can determine, it looks like a vehicle of some type snagged the phone or cable lights on the bottom of that pole and snapped it, bringing down three other lines in the area,” said Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for the utility.
Brooks said he expected all residents in the area to have power restored by 7 p.m. Sunday evening. Some businesses would have to wait until 6:30 Monday morning, he said, because “our first goal was to make sure residential customers in the area were warm tonight.”
About a dozen customers were without power in downtown Raleigh and near Meredith College. Outages near Zebulon affected about 1,480 customers but were resolved by Sunday evening. Fewer than a dozen outages were reported in the Chapel Hill area.
Customers also are using more energy than typical because of the low temperatures the area experienced over the weekend, Brooks said.
“We are in a stretch of days with temperatures well below normal, so we have seen usage elevated across our service area,” Brooks said. “And we would expect that trend to continue the next couple days. We do have adequate resources to meet customer demand at this time.”
That’s typical for January and February, which Brooks said are the highest usage months of the year. But low temperatures don’t necessarily mean Duke customers will see a much higher bill from January.
“We are then going to see temperatures up near 70, well above the average for this time of year,” Brooks said. “You have to look at the billing period as a whole.”
North Carolina State University announced shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday that classes and other university operations would be suspended Monday.
UNC-Chapel Hill announced about 3:30 Sunday that all “non-mandatory operations” would be suspended after 9 p.m. Sunday evening. The College of Arts and Sciences is not set to begin spring semester classes until Wednesday, but professional schools whose semesters have already begun will see classes cancelled or held remotely tomorrow.
Wake Tech Community College and Johnston County Community College have canceled all classes across all campuses Monday.
Saint Augustine’s University has canceled Monday classes, although the cafeteria will be open to students from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Wake Public County Schools will be closed for students and staff on Monday. Traditional-calendar schools will make up the day on Jan. 27.
Orange, Chatham, Durham, Franklin and Wayne county public schools will be closed to students and staff Monday.
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools will be closed for students and staff on Monday. Jan. 23 will become a regular school day.
The Orange County Board of Education meeting set for Monday was canceled.
Wake County libraries and parks were closed Sunday. Solid waste convenience centers in the county were scheduled to close at 5 p.m.
Durham County offices will be closed on Monday.
Orange County announced its courts would be closed on Monday.
The City of Durham announced Sunday afternoon that its City Hall offices and recreation facilities will also be closed Monday. Solid waste and recycling pickup is suspended one business day.
Raleigh’s department of parks, recreation and cultural resources has canceled all day programs for Monday. A decision regarding evening programs will be made by 4 p.m. Monday, a release Sunday afternoon said.
Cary announced Sunday evening that all parks facilities and programs – including the Chinese Latern Festival at Koka Booth Amphitheatre – would reopen and resume Tuesday, Jan. 10.
All Town of Carrboro administrative offices will be closed Monday.
Chapel Hill canceled its Monday council meeting.
Smithfield town offices, town hall and the Smithfield Recreation and Aquatics Center were set to reopen at 11 a.m. Monday.
Hurricane Matthew FEMA deadline extended
FEMA has approved North Carolina’s request to extend the deadline for Hurricane Matthew survivors to apply for federal assistance.
This is the second extension the state has received. It requested more time because of a dip in registrations during the holidays and the second extension was requested because of the winter storm. FEMA locations were closed during the holidays and holiday weekends and closed again due to the storm.
The new deadline to register for FEMA assistance is Jan. 23 and applies to homeowners, renters and businesses submitting applications for low-interest disaster loans Even those who have insurance are encouraged to apply. For more information go to disasterassistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.
Abbie Bennett: 919-836-5768; @AbbieRBennett
Tips for cold weather
▪ If the power goes out, contact Duke Energy Progress at 800-769-3766 or Wake Electric Membership Corp. at 800-474-6300 or 919-863-6300.
▪ Be careful when using supplemental heating units. Make sure all combustible materials, such as drapes or chairs, are at least 3 feet away from any heating unit.
▪ Avoid using propane heaters inside or flammable liquids to start fireplaces, and do not leave a fireplace unattended. Check smoke detectors to make sure they are working properly.
▪ Never use a charcoal or gas grill indoors.
▪ Let water taps drip so they don’t freeze. Learn how to use your home’s master water shut-off valve in the event of broken pipes.
▪ Bring pets indoors at night when temperatures dip to their lowest.
▪ Make noice before starting the car because some animals try to stay warm using a car engine or wheel well.
▪ Check on relatives and neighbors to make sure they’re warm enough.
On the road
▪ Keep more than the usual distance between cars, and do not use cruise control. Remember that bridges and overpasses freeze first.
▪ Do not apply your brakes while on a bridge unless necessary.
▪ Anticipate black ice. Watch for thin sheets of ice that may appear to be wet pavement. Often ice will appear in the morning, in shady spots or anywhere that melted snow refreezes at night.
▪ If your vehicle begins to slide, take your foot off the gas and turn the steering wheel in the direction of the slide. Do not apply the brakes, as that will cause further loss of control.
▪ Come to a complete stop or yield the right of way when approaching an intersection in case any drivers coming from other directions lose control while trying to stop.
▪ You can contact the Highway Patrol statewide on your cellphone by calling *HP (*47) or call local law enforcement by dialing 911. But don’t call 911 to check on road conditions.
▪ Do not attempt to deal with downed limbs or trees. They may be tangled in live power lines.