North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper warns that black ice will be an ongoing concern as freezing temperatures are expected through the weekend.
“North Carolina has experienced a significant and unusual storm,” Cooper said Thursday in an update on the state’s response to Winter Storm Grayson. “Driving conditions remain hazardous and will remain hazardous for the next several days. You can make the jobs of our first responders a lot easier by staying off the roads.”
Several North Carolinians have lost their lives due to the winter storm, Cooper said – two men in Moore County and a man in Beaufort County. A fourth man was found dead in Surf City early Thursday morning inside a vehicle that rescuers pulled out of a canal; police identified him as Dax Christopher Baker, 20, of Surf City, and said weather was a contributing factor in the crash.
In Moore County, a pickup truck overturned into a creek. The state Highway Patrol identified those killed as the driver, 57-year-old Michael Alexander Wilson, and a passenger, 73-year-old Jerry David Wilson. Both were from Bear Creek.
In Beaufort County, a truck drove off a private road and overturned. NC Emergency Management spokesman Keith Acree said 29-year-old Joshua Wayne Biddle of Washington, NC, died early Thursday morning when his vehicle slid off the road into a ditch and into water.
State troopers have responded to 1,000 calls since the storm started, including 700 collisions, the governor said.
Cooper praised state Department of Transportation crews for “doing a really good job,” but added that secondary roads, bridges and overpasses “should be considered dangerous.”
The storm dumped up to 7 inches of snow on coastal counties. Northeastern counties were hardest hit, Cooper said, and snow continued to fall there Thursday morning.
About 20,000 utility customers lost power overnight Wednesday. By noon Thursday, about 5,000 homes and businesses were without electricity, Cooper said – mostly in Currituck, Dare, Harnett, Pamlico, Rockingham and Wake counties.
Thousands of students in the state had a snow day – 66 districts canceled school, Cooper said, and another 20 had delayed starts.