Weather

Icy roads a lingering threat; Triangle power outages dwindle

Burford’s Tree employee Johnny Hunt of Maxton, N.C., removes a downed pine tree from Wilson Lane off of Saint Mary’s Street on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 as utility crews works to restore power to this Raleigh neighborhood. Residents in this area have been without power since late Wednesday after a winter storm moved through the area.
Burford’s Tree employee Johnny Hunt of Maxton, N.C., removes a downed pine tree from Wilson Lane off of Saint Mary’s Street on Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 as utility crews works to restore power to this Raleigh neighborhood. Residents in this area have been without power since late Wednesday after a winter storm moved through the area. rwillett@newsobserver.com

With temperatures expected to dip below freezing overnight Friday, another crop of treacherous black ice is likely Saturday morning, making more slick patches like those blamed for numerous crashes over the past couple weeks.

Utility crews worked Friday to restore electric power to customers still in the dark more than 24 hours after a storm dumped 4 to 7 inches of snow in the Triangle.

At their peak, outages had affected about 150,000 Duke Energy customers. By Friday afternoon, about 12,000 customers in Wake, Durham, Orange and Chatham counties were still without power, and the company estimated that it would be close to midnight Friday before everyone had service restored.

Wade and Ann Smith of Raleigh had been without heat for more than a day Friday morning, as the couple sat near their bay window on Wilson Lane to soak up any sunlight that made it through the clouds. Their bearded dragon lizard, Draco, sat in her cage next to one of two fires the family kept burning for warmth.

“It’s been cozy, like camping out,” said Wade Smith, a Raleigh attorney. “We had a good night. We didn’t suffer at all.”

Part of Wilson Lane, a dead-end street on a hill, was blocked by a fallen tree that took a power line down with it. The street still had large patches of ice and slush, while down the hill, St. Mary’s Street was mostly clear.

Ann Smith said residents on the street are used to dealing with the ramifications of severe weather a little longer, and the Smiths weren’t complaining. It gives them and their neighbors a chance to relax and catch up with each other.

On nearby Cooleemee Drive, a prolonged power outage also allowed Cayt Kirkman and her 2-year-old son to get closer with friends who had power. Kirkman lost power early Thursday morning, and it still hadn’t been restored.

“We’re blessed to have friends,” Kirkman said.

The snow and ice began to disappear as temperatures rose into the 40s under sunny skies Friday. But with lows expected in the mid-20s overnight, the National Weather Service issued an advisory for black ice from 9 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday.

The state Department of Transportation prepared for another cycle of freezing and thawing. Dozens of crews spent daylight hours Friday plowing neighborhood roads, said DOT spokesman Steve Abbott.

After dark, night-side crews were expected to take over, salting and sanding icy spots.

“There will be patches of ice on interstates and other roads,” Abbott said. He urged slow, cautious driving, and waiting until mid-morning Saturday, if possible, to take to the roads.

Saturday’s temperatures aren’t expected to get above freezing until about lunchtime, reaching only the mid-30s, said WTVD meteorologist Don Schwenneker. Temperatures may rise to the 40s on Sunday, he said, and top 50 on Monday, which is the day the N.C. Zoo expects to reopen as the remains of the latest winter storm disappear.

Reporter Ron Gallagher contributed to this report.

Bonner: 919-829-4821;

Twitter: @Lynn_Bonner

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