Warmer weather to thaw remains of weekend snow storm in the Triangle

Icy conditions at Heritage High School

Snow and ice melts as a maintenance crew clears sidewalks mid-day Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, N.C.
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Snow and ice melts as a maintenance crew clears sidewalks mid-day Wednesday, January 11, 2017 at Heritage High School in Wake Forest, N.C.

The Triangle likely saw the last of freezing temperatures for a while on Tuesday, but a big thaw in the Triangle may take a few days.

Sun began to melt the ice that has plagued secondary roads, side streets and walkways since the thermometer plunged below 32 degrees last week, but it will take longer to make the ice and snow go away than it took for it to arrive.

Most Triangle-area schools were closed to students again on Wednesday, though some held optional teacher workdays.

Temperatures were expected to progressively warm throughout the week, according to the National Weather Service, with highs on Wednesday in the 50s and in the 60s on Thursday and Friday, possibly even peaking at 70 degrees Friday.

The warmup is thanks to a high pressure system allowing warm air to come into the area from Gulf states, said Shawna Cokley a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Raleigh.

“It’s going to feel amazing and springlike and everyone will forget about the snow that’s laying on the ground right now,” she said.

A state of emergency issued by Gov. Roy Cooper expired at noon Tuesday as temperatures were expected to rise.

But the Triangle is not out of the woods quite yet. Some roads were still covered with slick sheets of ice in some places Tuesday morning and may stay that way through the Wednesday morning commute. Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood took to Facebook on Tuesday morning, posting photos of icy roads and cars that had slid off them.

“It may sound like a broken record, but we want to stress to you the dangers which still exist on rural and secondary roads across Orange County,” Blackwood wrote. “We will do our best to let you know when conditions improve.”

The Durham County Sheriff’s Office said several roads still were impassable on Tuesday, including Carpenter Road, Fletcher’s Chapel at Loftin Road, West Cornwallis at Kerley Road, Stallings Road, Old Oxford Highway, Olive Branch Road at Doc Nichols Road and the 4000 block of West Cornwallis Road.

The N.C. Highway Patrol responded to 1,650 wrecks statewide and 3,617 calls for service from Friday night through Monday morning. Statewide, 63 of the 115 school systems closed while others had delayed openings or early releases.

There were two storm-related deaths. An 85-year-old Surry County man died Monday from prolonged exposure to the cold after he fell outside his home. A woman died Sunday in Montgomery County when the car she was riding in slid off the road into a tree.

Raleigh-Durham International Airport still was dealing with delays and cancellations on Tuesday and computer outages caused even more issues, though those were resolved late Tuesday afternoon.

United, American and Delta airlines all had cancellations at RDU on Tuesday and others faced delays.

Power problems appeared to be mostly solved throughout the area. Duke Energy Progress reported one outage Tuesday morning that affected 15 customers in the Sunset Lake Road area near Holly Springs.

While the warmup is welcome news, Triangle residents shouldn’t forget that it is still January and winter won’t be over for a while, meteorologist Cokley said.

In the last two years, February has been a big month for winter storms, she said.

In 2015, an ice storm in Feb. 17 turned roads into ice rinks and left at least 63,000 homes and businesses without power.

A storm in February 2014 caused an early-afternoon rush hour, clogging streets and freeways with cars that quickly began slipping into ditches and sliding down hills as the Triangle received 3 to 8 inches of snow.

Chris Cioffi: 919-829-4802, @ReporterCioffi

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