Freezing rain and icy roads kept police officers and EMS crews busy around the Triangle early Saturday morning as hundreds of cars were damaged in accidents.
In Raleigh alone, the city’s police department said there were 203 wrecks — at least 26 involving injuries — in the 7 hours between 11 p.m. Friday and 6 a.m. Saturday. There were 13 similar incidents during the same time period last week.
None of the Raleigh crashes resulted in a serious injury or a fatality, said Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue.
At about 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Durham police said an icy patch had shut down Interstate 540 near its interchange with Interstate 40.
Overnight, the weather also caused road closures or major delays on I-540 and N.C. 540 in Wake County as well as Interstate 85 in Durham and near Falls Lake, according to state Department of Transportation traffic data.
Morrisville Police Chief Patrice Andrews released a series of videos early Saturday morning informing drivers that law enforcement had closed Triangle highways, including the ramps between N.C. 147 and I-540, to allow DOT trucks to treat bridges with salt and sand.
“We’ve already seen multiple crashes as a result of drivers not expecting the icy conditions,” Andrews said in a video.
I-540 and N.C. 147 have reopened, she said.
DOT had also brined some overpasses and major routes in advance of the wintry weather, officials said Friday.
Raleigh police issued an advisory shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday asking drivers to stay off the roads until conditions improved, calling the traffic problems “widespread” and not limited to bridges and overpasses.
Forecasts at the National Weather Service had called for a light freezing rain to fall overnight and Saturday morning in the Triangle, and issued a freezing rain advisory.
That advisory expired at 9 a.m. Saturday as the threat of new ice dropped when temperatures rose above freezing. But weather officials warned that some black ice could remain on cold roads in the morning.
Saturday’s highs are expected to be in the upper 40s and temperatures on Sunday are expected to be in the low 70s.
The NWS issued a hazardous weather outlook between Saturday night and Sunday morning, warning that heavy fog and rain is possible as temperatures quickly increase across the Triangle.
Cold weather is expected to return on Monday as temperatures plunge back into the high 30s.
Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi