Moderate to heavy snow moved into central North Carolina Wednesday afternoon, dumping 10 inches or more in some areas, leaving roads full of slush.
Parts of Durham County saw more than 10 inches inches of snow by 7 p.m. Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Raleigh, and more was still falling.
Parts of Wake County saw 4 to 5 inches as of 7 p.m., with more snow continuing to fall into the evening.
Nearly 26,000 were without power and counting statewide as of about 7 p.m., according to Duke Energy and N.C. Emergency Management, as wet snow accumulated on power lines and tree limbs. Power outages peaked Wednesday at about 30,000.
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Gov. Roy Cooper said state road crews would work through the day and night to restore safe road conditions, transitioning from plows to salt and sand as temperatures drop. A state of emergency declared statewide on Tuesday remained in effect until further notice.
Chatham County and the American Red Cross opened a shelter for residents who need a warm place to stay Wednesday evening after power outages in the county and temperatures expected in the teens. The Chatham County Council on Aging’s Eastern Senior Center opened at 5 p.m. at 365 N.C. Highway 87 in Pittsboro. Residents should call 919-545-8164 to let staff know they are coming and bring food, water, medications, toiletries and other personal items. Pets are not allowed at the shelter.
The heaviest band of snow moved through the Triangle area beginning at 1 p.m., extending from Raleigh south to Sanford and Lillington, and creeping into Johnston County. Areas under the heavy band saw heavy snow fall at rates of 1 to 2 inches per hour.
The weather service in Raleigh issued a winter storm warning affecting the western Piedmont of North Carolina until 9 p.m. Wednesday and a winter weather advisory affecting Wayne and Sampson counties until 1 a.m. Thursday.
A winter storm warning means severe winter weather is occurring and travel is highly discouraged. A winter weather advisory means periods of snow may cause travel difficulties.
Here’s what to expect now:
▪ Snow should continue to fall over most of the Triangle into the evening. While snow was beginning to taper off in Durham and areas west as of about 6 p.m. Wednesday, at least 1 to 2 more inches were expected for Wake and Johnston counties.
▪ Lows overnight are expected to be in the teens, with wind chill readings in the single digits across central North Carolina. Thursday’s high is predicted to be only in the mid-30s.
▪ “Extremely dangerous travel conditions for all of central North Carolina,” according to the weather service. Any snow or slush on roads, bridges and overpasses will freeze overnight, making for treacherous road conditions Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
▪ DOT crews will salt and sand roads as temperatures drop, making plowing less effective. Salt is slow to melt ice until temperatures reach into the 20s, though.
The latest road conditions can be found at drivenc.gov.
Roads, air travel
N.C. Department of Transportation crews began spraying brine on roads in on Monday to help prevent hazardous conditions. More than 1.7 million gallons of brine had been used to prep roads across the state as of Tuesday.
The N.C. Highway Patrol reported nearly 1,600 collisions since midnight Tuesday. There had been no storm-related deaths reported as of about 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Conditions were expected to worsen overnight as temperatures fall and any snow, slush or water on roads freezes.
Cooper asked residents to stay home if they can.
“We cannot stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice,” Cooper said Wednesday. “The state’s transportation workers continue to clear the primary roads and troopers and first responders are helping motorists in need. Staying off the roads allows these employees to do their jobs more safely, which in turn makes it safer for everyone else.”
Raleigh-Durham International Airport announced Wednesday that Southwest Airlines had canceled all flights from RDU until noon Thursday, and American Airlines had canceled six flights. United Airlines had scrubbed 10 flights, JetBlue two and Delta one.
For more information on conditions at RDU, go to www.rdu.com/weather.
Delta Airlines announced Tuesday that its customers who need to cancel trips because of flight cancellations or significant delays are entitled to refunds. Customers whose flights are not canceled can still make one-time changes to their tickets without fees if they are scheduled to travel to, from or through areas in the Southeast, including Raleigh and Charlotte.
▪ Dress warmly for the cold. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
▪ Keep alternative heating sources and fire extinguishers on hand. Be sure your family knows how to use them.
▪ Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
▪ Do not burn charcoal or use a grill indoors.
▪ Use a NOAA Weather Radio or monitor local news for changing weather conditions.
▪ Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
▪ If your pipes are uninsulated, keep faucets open to a slow drip to prevent pipes from freezing.
▪ Keep pets inside, out of the cold.
▪ Download the ReadyNC app for more winter weather preparedness information.
▪ Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include a windshield scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.
▪ Keep your cellphone charged.
▪ Monitor fuel levels.
▪ Clear your windshield and other windows of snow and ice before traveling.
▪ Use headlights and windshield wipers.
▪ Plan for delays and longer than usual travel times.
▪ Increase your following distance and decrease your speed.
▪ Choose several routes as some roadways may be closed.
▪ Share your travel plans/routes with others.
▪ Always be aware of your location in case you become stranded.
▪ If your vehicle becomes disabled, stay inside the vehicle until help arrives.
▪ Contact 911 or *HP in emergency situations only. Go to DriveNC.gov for roadway conditions.