Weather

Wintry mix bypasses Triangle; schools still delayed Friday

Wind-driven rain started coming down in earnest around midday in downtown Raleigh Thursday, making for more than a casual walk down Fayetteville Street as the morning temperature dropped into the 40s before noon. Weather forecasters say that approaching cold front mixing with the rainfall by late afternoon Thursday will make for a wintry mix over the triangle after dark.
Wind-driven rain started coming down in earnest around midday in downtown Raleigh Thursday, making for more than a casual walk down Fayetteville Street as the morning temperature dropped into the 40s before noon. Weather forecasters say that approaching cold front mixing with the rainfall by late afternoon Thursday will make for a wintry mix over the triangle after dark. hlynch@newsobserver.com

The little taste of spring the Triangle enjoyed Wednesday was rudely shoved aside by cold, boisterous rain and another blast of cold air Thursday, but a feared visit from snow or sleet did not happen in most places.

Residual moisture on roads, especially the usual trouble spots of bridges and highway entrance and exit ramps, caused some worry, but that was better than earlier forecasts had suggested.

“We are more concerned with black ice later tonight through tomorrow morning,” Gail Hartsfield, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, said early Thursday night.

Still, the foul weather forecast caused cancellations and delays throughout the Triangle. Wake, Durham, Orange, Johnston and Franklin county schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools will open two hours late Friday morning, and both UNC-Chapel Hill and N.C. State University have canceled classes before 10 a.m. Chatham County schools will open three hours late for students and two hours late for teachers and staff.

The weather service said early Friday that less than 1 percent of the precipitation that fell was frozen, and rain had stopped completely at Raleigh-Durham International Airport by 9 p.m.

Temperatures dropped throughout the day Thursday, from the mid-60s to th\e mid-30s by 5 p.m., according to the weather service, which issued a winter weather advisory for the region through noon on Friday.

State road crews did not pretreat roads with salt brine because the rain would only wash it away, said state Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott. He said DOT maintenance crews for Wake and Durham were brought in early Thursday afternoon and were set to work through the night to deal with calls from law enforcement about icy trouble spots.

Temperatures will bottom out in the low 20s by Friday morning.

Abbott and forecasters warned that icy conditions were possible through Friday morning and urged people to take it slow on the road.

The state DOT’s travel service reported roads generally clear throughout the Triangle, however.

It’s a rude change from Wednesday, when a slug of warm air from the south pushed temperatures into the mid 70s.

Friday should be sunny but cold, with temperatures in the 30s. Saturday morning will start cold, too, but warmer air should return, with temperatures topping 50, still shy of the normal high this time of year of 60.

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