The forecast of snow in the Triangle grew and grew on Tuesday, and now meteorologists expect anywhere from 2 to 5 inches to fall.
The National Weather Service in Raleigh issued a winter storm warning for all of central North Carolina to begin at 11 p.m. Tuesday and last until 4 p.m. Wednesday, with snow expected to arrive after midnight Tuesday and last well into Wednesday.
The weather service upgraded its snowfall accumulation forecast Tuesday, calling for 2 to 5 inches for the Triangle, with more expected to the north along the Virginia border. The forecast previously called for 2 inches of snow or less for much of that area.
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Locally higher amounts up to 6 inches also are possible in parts of central North Carolina near the Triad and further north, the weather service said.
Central North Carolina may see hazardous driving conditions by rush hour Wednesday morning, the weather service said.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for all of North Carolina beginning on Tuesday ahead of the storm, to allow for deployment of resources for storm response. Cooper also announced that the state would activate its Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday morning.
“Nearly all of North Carolina will be impacted by this winter storm, and we’re making sure North Carolina is ready,” Gov. Cooper said. “I urge all of our residents to be prepared and to stay safe.”
Most school districts in the Triangle and the Sandhills announced Tuesday that they would be closed Wednesday. Duke University, N.C. State University, UNC-Chapel Hill and the N.C. Zoo are among the large employers that also will be closed Wednesday.
Snow is expected to begin in the Triangle around 4 a.m. Wednesday or just before sunrise, according the weather service in Raleigh and ABC11 meteorologists Steve Stewart and Chris Hohmann, as a strong arctic cold front approaches from the west.
The storm will be a quick-hitting event, the weather service said. Areas throughout central North Carolina will likely see 6-hour windows during which accumulating snow will fall.
Once the snow begins, it will rapidly intensify, according to the weather service. Occasional but brief bursts of heavier snow may occur, making road conditions dangerous.
“Road conditions could go from being fine one minute, to treacherous the next minute,” the weather service said in a Tuesday update.
Snowfall rates of half an inch to an inch per hour will be possible between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Eastern North Carolina could see a dusting to a couple of inches of snow, affecting Wednesday evening travel there, the NWS office in Morehead City said.
While the snow will likely create hazardous road conditions, it will also be bitterly cold beginning Wednesday night into Thursday morning, with wind chills approaching single digits across central North Carolina, the weather service said.
N.C. Department of Transportation crews have been spraying brine on roads in Wake County since Monday morning to help prevent hazardous conditions. Roads are expected to be covered with snow during the storm, and caution is advised.
More than 1.7 million gallons of brine had been used to prep roads across the state as of Tuesday afternoon, Cooper said.
“Unnecessary travel not only puts you at risk, but it can also put our first responders’ lives at risk if you end up needing help,” Cooper said. “And the more vehicles we have on the road, the tougher it is for our DOT crews to treat and clear those roads and get them open again.”
Raleigh-Durham International Airport showed four arriving flights from Houston were canceled Tuesday along with two flights to Houston. Hundreds of flights have been canceled in Texas in response to wintry weather, the Associated Press reported. For more information on conditions at RDU, go to www.rdu.com/weather.
Delta Airlines announced Tuesday that its customers who need to cancel trips because of flight cancellations or significant delays are entitled to refunds. Customers whose flights are not canceled can still make one-time changes to their tickets without fees if they are scheduled to travel to, from or through areas in the Southeast, including Raleigh and Charlotte.
The latest road conditions can be found at drivenc.gov.
One positive note: Freezing rain is not expected. The precipitation may begin as brief rain but will change to snow, skipping the icy phase.
Although warmer weather is expected later this week, conditions won’t improve immediately after the storm. Temperatures are expected to fall through the day Wednesday into the 20s, with lows in the teens and wind chills dropping to single digits overnight Wednesday night and Thursday morning after the snow ends, the weather service said. Any moisture on the ground will likely refreeze as temperatures drop.
Isolated power outages are possible as the cold moves in late Tuesday night through Wednesday evening, the weather service said.
▪ Dress warmly for the cold. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
▪ Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand. Be sure your family knows how to use them.
▪ Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
▪ Do not burn charcoal or use a grill indoors.
▪ Use a NOAA Weather Radio or monitor local news for changing weather conditions.
▪ Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
▪ If your pipes are uninsulated, keep faucets open to a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
▪ Keep pets inside, out of the cold.
▪ Download the ReadyNC app for more winter weather preparedness information.
▪ Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a windshield scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.
▪ Keep your cellphone charged.
▪ Monitor fuel levels.
▪ Clear your windshield and other windows of snow and ice before traveling.
▪ Use headlights and windshield wipers.
▪ Plan for delays and longer than usual travel times.
▪ Increase your following distance and decrease your speed.
▪ Choose several routes as some roadways may be closed.
▪ Share your travel plans/routes with others.
▪ Always be aware of your location in case you become stranded.
▪ If your vehicle becomes disabled, stay inside the vehicle until help arrives.
▪ Contact 911 or *HP in emergency situations only. Go to DriveNC.gov for roadway conditions.