© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Winter Storm Brings Dangerous Ice, Snow to Western N.C.

North Carolina's first major winter storm brought snow and ice to western N.C.  The combination of precipitation and cold weather made for a dangerous accumulation of ice on roads and sidewalks.  Walking was treacherous in downtown Asheville, with ice-coated sidewalks offering no grip.  Roads were similarly dangerous. 

*Update: Wednesday 7:02am

Governor Pat McCrory is warning motorists in North Carolina of treacherous road conditions later this week as extremely cold temperatures would freeze or re-freeze what has already fallen.

The governor has renewed his plea to citizens to stay home so road crews could scrape ice from various road surfaces.

N.C. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata joined McCrory in warning that anything liquid on roads or elevated surfaces would turn to black ice.

Temperatures were anticipated to fall into the teens and 20s in the Piedmont on Tuesday night and to zero or slightly above Wednesday night. Forecasters expected even lower temperatures Thursday night. Light snow also was forecast in some areas Wednesday.

The winter storm caused the legislature to essentially cancel Tuesday's work and committee meetings until midday Wednesday.

Duke Energy is making progress in restoring electricity to its customers across North Carolina.
The Charlotte-based utility reported it had nearly 9,500 customers without service early Wednesday morning. The biggest problems continued to be in Robeson and Sampson counties.

The weather forecast is not promising for most of the state.

Up to 5 inches of snow could fall in the northern mountains around Boone on Wednesday. Up to 3 inches of snow was possible near the Tennessee state line and up to 1 inch could fall around Asheville.

Wind chills as low as 30 below zero are possible in the mountains.

Black ice is causing problems in much of the central and eastern part of the state.

A number of schools were closed Wednesday because of the conditions.

More than 2,000 travelers spent the night at Charlotte Douglas International Airport as a winter storm roared through North Carolina dropping snow, sleet and freezing rain on the region.

A statement from airport officials said cots, mats, pillows and blankets were distributed to the stranded travelers Monday night and Tuesday morning. Some airport concessionaires and checkpoints extended their hours to accommodate travelers and will continue to do so as needed.

As of Tuesday, officials said roadways near the airport remain hazardous, particularly on bridges and overpasses. Treatment of roadways continues, and motorists are advised to be careful and to drive slowly.

The statement also said the airport continues to experience delays and cancellations. Travelers are advised to check with their airlines for updated flight status before leaving for the airport.

*Update: Tuesday 7:08 PM

Governor Pat McCrory says road conditions have improved and power outages eased since North Carolina's winter storm departed the state. But he cautioned next two nights would be dangerous due to black ice and bitter-cold temperatures.

McCrory urged motorists late Tuesday to stay off roads and elevated surfaces where liquid was likely to refreeze overnight. He also said he was worried about Wednesday night's temperatures dropping to zero degrees and residents using unsafe forms of heating to keep warm.

The governor said power outages had fallen to 36,000 electric customers by Tuesday afternoon, down from a peak of 63,000. The majority of the remaining outages were in several rural southeastern counties.

Shelters remained open in four counties. Transportation workers had helped 250 stranded motorists over a 24-hour period.

The N.C. Highway Patrol says winter weather appears to be a factor in the death of a woman who was killed in a two-car crash in northeastern North Carolina.

According to the patrol, 19-year-old Mykayia Quintara Wilder of Ahoskie was killed when the car she was driving Monday night went out of control on N.C. 561 outside of Ahoskie. Wilder's car crossed the center line and collided with a car driven by 34-year-old Brian Keith Matthews of Henderson.

The patrol said the road was covered with ice, and that neither speed nor alcohol was a factor in the accident.

Original Post:

Governor Pat McCrory says he hopes North Carolina government is "over-prepared and underwhelmed" for the season's first statewide winter storm. He also urged caution during and after the forecast of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

McCrory announced Monday he declared a state of emergency and the state's emergency operations center had opened at noon.

State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry also said at a news conference that officials were watching carefully the threat for power outages from Charlotte northeast to the Triangle and east to Rocky Mount and Greenville.

Transportation Secretary Tony Tata says road crews had worked through the weekend and sprayed over 1 million gallons of salt brine. There was also lots of salt available.

Non-essential state employees in Wake County were being sent home early Monday afternoon.

McCrory says precipitation from North Carolina's winter storm is slowly leaving the state but urged motorists to stay home because of dangerous road conditions that may last well into the week.

McCrory said Tuesday morning that extremely low temperatures would make it difficult to scrape roads, leaving black ice behind. Transportation Secretary Tony Tata says DOT road crews worked through the night but salt or brine sprays can't overcome refreezing on covered roads.

The governor said 56,000 utility customers were without power, with the largest problems in the Sandhills. He said one woman died in Hertford County after losing control of her vehicle. The Highway Patrol has responded to more than 2,000 calls, and nearly all of the state's 115 school districts were closed.

McCrory said the Highway Patrol has investigated more than 1,000 accidents since midnight Monday.

Shelters have opened in some counties.

The General Assembly has essentially closed down so lawmakers can avoid the winter precipitation that's covered North Carolina roads. So has the state Supreme Court.

The House and Senate cancelled Tuesday committee meetings before the bad weather bore down on the state. Senate leaders decided Tuesday morning no votes would be held during their afternoon floor session. The House chamber chose earlier not to hold a floor session Tuesday.

The weather also meant a government affairs conference by the North Carolina Chamber scheduled for Tuesday was postponed to a later date. Top General Assembly leaders usually speak there.

Before the storm arrived the Supreme Court postponed by one week oral arguments scheduled Tuesday. The topics included the constitutionality of taxpayer-funded grants for low-income children to attend private schools.

For a list of school closings and delays, click here.

The Associated Press is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, it's a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members.