‘It’s a solid sheet of ice out there’

The storm that dropped up to a foot of snow on the Triangle has left even main roads snow covered and icy Thursday morning.

The slickest places are those where the slushy snow was reduced to water by the combination of salt and traffic and then froze overnight as temperatures dipped into the teens.

“It’s a solid sheet of ice out there,” said Jason Dunigan, Wake County maintenance engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation. “I wouldn’t get on the roads until this afternoon.”

Dunigan said his crews will still be focused on primary roads and interstate highways on Thursday. Those efforts, aided by temperatures in the upper 30s under sunny skies, should get those roads clear by the end of the day, Dunigan said.

Meanwhile, secondary roads and most residential streets will still be treacherous into Friday, particularly after another night of temperatures in the lower 20s.

Dunigan said the length and intensity of the storm meant road crews didn’t get as much done Wednesday as they had hoped.

“It took us a little longer because it was snowing so hard while we were out there pushing,” he said.

The snow and ice will keep most local buses off the road today. GoDurham, GoCary, GoTriangle and Chapel Hill Transit have canceled all service Thursday. GoCary has tentative plans to resume service at 8 a.m. Friday, while GoDurham and GoTriangle say they hope to resume service at 10 a.m.

GoRaleigh buses hit the road at 10 a.m., but are only operating on “major thoroughfares.” The following routes will not run Thursday: 3 Glascock; 10 Longview; 11L Buck Jones; 12 Method; 15L Trawick; 25L Triangle Town Link; 22 State Street. For details on detours on other routes, go to

Some who have ventured out on the icy roads have regretted it. Law enforcement agencies are responding to numerous accidents, including one that closed northbound Interstate 85 at N.C. 86 in Hillsborough and another that closed westbound Glenwood Avenue between Pinecrest Road and Interstate 540. Both stretches of road remained closed about 9 a.m.

It’s not clear whether local NCDOT crews will get a hand from others around the state. DOT spokesman Steve Abbott said the department often can shift trucks and drivers around, the way it sent crews from the Piedmont to help at the coast after the storm two weeks ago, but this storm hasn’t spared any part of the state.

“Everybody’s still plowing snow,” Abbott said. “Most of the state has got the exact same thing we have.”

Unlike the Triangle’s first winter storm of the season two weeks ago, this one will be followed by warming weather that will help clear the roads more quickly. It will remain sunny through the weekend, with temperatures rising into the 50s on Friday and Saturday and to near 60 on Sunday.

Richard Stradling: 919-829-4739, @RStradling

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