A much-heralded winter storm roaring up the East Coast left powdery snow on the Triangle and most of Eastern North Carolina overnight, closing schools, covering roads and dropping temperatures into the mid-20s.
Four people in North Carolina have died as a result of the storm. Two men died in when their truck overturned in a creek in Moore County and a man in Beaufort County died when his truck drove off a private road and overturned. A fourth man was found dead in Surf City Thursday morning inside a vehicle rescuers pulled from a canal. Police said weather contributed to the crash.
Thousands across the state were without power as of noon Thursday, mostly in Currituck, Dare, Harnett, Pamlico, Rockingham and Wake counties. Power outages peaked at 20,000 overnight.
Now, dangerous cold and black ice will be the biggest challenges across the area for the next few days. Lows may drop into single digits Friday morning, with the wind chill near zero.
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Central North Carolina remained under a winter weather advisory Thursday evening until Saturday at the earliest and a wind chill advisory spread across much of the eastern and northern parts of the state.
Wake County courts, county and town facilities across the Triangle planned to delay opening on Friday.
There’s another chance of snow on Monday between 8 a.m. and noon for central North Carolina, including the Raleigh and Triangle areas, according to the National Weather Service in Raleigh. That will be followed by a chance of rain, but with a high of 49 expected, and a low of 36, it’s unlikely that rain will freeze.
Rain is also possible on Tuesday and a high of 51, but the low Tuesday night will drop back down below freezing, the weather service said.
Snow totals in the Triangle reached an inch in most places and 1.5 to 2 inches in areas including Hillsborough, Chapel Hill and Clayton, ABC 11 meteorologists and the weather service reported.
Accumulations were much heavier to the south and east; about six inches fell in Pinehurst and much of Moore County, according to the National Weather Service. Five inches fell in Raeford, just south of Fayetteville and Fort Bragg. To the east, six inches also fell in Nashville, near Rocky Mount, and three inches fell in Goldsboro. Areas near the coast and in the northeastern corner of the state received as much as 7.5 inches.
Cary Police received multiple calls of children walking onto icy ponds and lakes on Thursday, according to Sgt. Robin Edwards. At least one teenager was rescued after falling through the ice of a Cary lake.
“Trust us, it may look safe enough for play, but the ice is not thick enough,” Edwards said. “People have already fallen into the water. Please do not play or allow your children to play on frozen surfaces.”
A new winter weather advisory, for black ice and hazardous travel, was issued for the Triangle and most of central North Carolina until Saturday morning. A new wind chill advisory also was in effect until 10 a.m. Friday, warning of chill factors that can cause frostbite within just 30 minutes of exposure.
Most roads in the Triangle were covered with a thin layer of snow, some of which melted in the sun as the day progressed. The weather service warned that cold temperatures would refreeze the melted snow into ice on roadways. The interstates were mostly clear, but caution was advised for those who have to travel.
“Snow, ice and frigid temperatures mean driving conditions could remain hazardous through the next several days,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “Our transportation crews, state troopers and other first responders are doing a great job, but you can make their jobs easier by staying off the roads unless absolutely necessary.”
The N.C. Highway Patrol responded to more than 1,300 calls for service across central and eastern North Carolina since the storm began, including nearly 900 collisions.
Cooper on Wednesday declared a state of emergency for areas of North Carolina that were being affected by the storm. The designation allows necessary resources to be deployed in those places.
In the Triangle, the declaration included Wake, Durham, Johnston, Chatham, Harnett and Granville counties.
Some relief from the frigid spell will come early next week, with highs rising into the 40s on Monday and the 50s on Tuesday.
But bitterly cold air is roaring back into North Carolina as the storm departs. Windy and frigid air will continue to feed into North Carolina on northwest winds gusting 30 to 35 mph across central North Carolina through the weekend.
Friday and the weekend will remain frigid – refreezing any moisture left on the ground and much of the snow on the ground will be sticking around as arctic high pressure builds into the area settling over central and eastern North Carolina by Sunday.
Temperatures were expected to be nearly 20 degrees below normal for daily highs in the Triangle.
Lows Friday morning will be in single digits, and the temperature may not rise past freezing until Sunday, Bell said, and then barely.
There’s also a chance of more snow on Monday morning, though that could end up as a wintry mix with sleet and freezing rain, the weather service said on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Raleigh Rescue Mission has implemented the “White Flag” program, a Wake County community initiative to give shelter to as many people as possible during extreme temperatures.
Raleigh Rescue launches the program when evening temperatures are expected to dip below 32 or 38 degrees with precipitation.
The shelter filled all 92 of its beds for women and 38 beds for men and took in more people to help as many as possible stay warm Wednesday evening, said Richard Fitzgerald, the mission’s director of philanthropy.
“In an attempt to keep people safe in this dangerous weather we also typically allow them to stay inside the following day, provide meals and if the extreme cold weather continues we house them again that night,” he said.
The shelter has an immediate need for breakfast foods, especially sausage, bacon, orange juice and cooking oil, Fitzgerald said. Food can be brought to the mission at 314 E. Hargett St.
The shelter also has a need for winter clothes such as insulated gloves, winter socks, scarfs and hats for all genders and ages. These items can be donated to the Raleigh Rescue Mission Store and Donation Center at 4700 Capital Blvd. The donation center will close at 4 p.m. on Thursday, but will resume its regular business hours on Friday from 10 a.m to 7 p.m.