Environment

Environment
7:40 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Storm Forces Drivers To Abandon Vehicles, Set Out On Foot

Drivers stranded along the side of the road on highway 54 in Chapel Hill.
Credit Jennifer Coffman

The snow began falling in the Triangle around noon, causing many who were still at work to quickly head out on the roads. That caused major gridlock across the region. 

Hundreds if not thousands of motorists abandoned their vehicles along I-40 or the Raleigh Beltline or on the side of roads. Many walked home several miles through the snow.

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Weather
12:00 pm
Wed February 12, 2014

Winter Storm - Latest News

Glen Lennox neighborhood of Chapel Hill. Image taken around noon 2/14/14
Credit Carol Jackson

Last updated 4:44 p.m.

We've got lots of reporters and producers collecting information for you. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Update 4:44 p.m.:

From Durham PD: "The Durham Police Department's grace period for moving vehicles abandoned due to Wednesday's storm ends today. The Police Department will start towing any vehicles blocking or partially blocking travel lanes. The vehicle owners will be responsible for the towing fees. If you check on your vehicle and find that it has been towed, please contact the Police Department's front desk at (919) 560-4427 to find out where the vehicle has been towed."

Update 3:42 p.m.:

This is pretty great. Wake County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) sent out a note of thanks to 20 people who assisted a neighbor during the storm:
 

EMS was transporting a patient who had suffered cardiac arrest in the street during the snow storm. As EMS workers moved through Van Dyke Av. off Hillsborough St. the ambulance was not able to quickly climb the steep hill due to the rapid accumulation while on scene.   

Supervisors with 4-wheel drive response units were called to the scene to transfer the patient to the hospital. That's when approximately about 30 citizens jumped into action by assisting EMS staff to physically carry the patient to the top of the hill to meet the waiting EMS vehicle.

Not only did the same citizens assist in carrying the patient to the waiting vehicle, but they also assisted EMS in transferring EMS equipment from the relief vehicle in order to assure there was adequate space for the safe transport of the patient.

"Wake County EMS would like to offer our sincerest thank you to those that helped us on Van Dyke, and all over Wake County through the storm," said Jeffrey Hammerstein, District Chief with Wake County EMS.   

"We often hear words of thanks from residents for being out working during severe weather, but we truly could not do our jobs without the support of those around us in the community."

As paramedics proceeded to Rex Hospital with the resuscitated victim, those same citizens worked together with shovels and kitty litter to help free the ambulance and get them on their way.

EMS officials are aware that someone may have recorded video of the rescue and would like to obtain a copy, so that they may be able to identify those who unselfishly assisted paramedics.

Update 3:28 p.m.:

Update 3:12 p.m.:

Update 2:44 p.m.:

Update 2:39 p.m.:

Did you have to leave your car on the side of the road during the storm? Was your car towed? Likely you will be responsible for the cost of the tow.  Due to a so called "Quick Clearance Law," any vehicles left in the road (as opposed to a lot or a ditch) will be towed at the owner's expense.

Highway Patrol spokesman, Jeff Gordon: "By law, by statute, it's written in the law that if you leave your vehicle in the roadway, you'll be responsible. And I'm speaking on behalf of the legal registered owner."

Gordon says those payments will go to the tow companies contracted to move the vehicles, not highway patrol.

Update 11:19 a.m.:

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety says about 48,000 customers are without power this morning. A vast majority of them, 41,000, are in the eastern third of the state.

Update 10:27 a.m.:

DATA/Durham and the Bull City Connector has resumed weekday service, but buses might be unable to serve portions of routes in neighborhoods because of icy conditions. Triangle Transit, C-Tran/Cary and Chapel Hill Transit are up and running. EZ Rider services will NOT operate. CAT/Capital Area Transit service is underway as is Accessible Raleigh Transit service.  The R--LINE will provide service until 2:15 a.m. tomorrow.

Update 9:53 a.m.:

Raleigh media producer Penn Holderness, famous for his "XMAS Jammies" viral video (13 million plus views), returns with "Snow Day, The Musical."

Update 9:46 a.m.

Durham man heads out to help with his 4-wheeler. Reporter Jorge Valencia has the story.

Update 9:26 a.m.:

WUNC listener Amy MacDonald posted this picture in response to our Facebook query asking for images of the snow:

Juline Chevalier posted this picture, from Durham on Thursday:

Update 9:12 a.m.:

Young reporter in Durham tells what the storm looks like in his neighborhood.  "This may have just been the craziest snow day yet."

Update 8:58 a.m.:

Update 6:50 a.m.:

Duke Energy estimates when the power will return for some North Carolina counties hardest hit by the storm:
Anson County – Saturday, noon
Cabarrus County – Saturday, 11:45 p.m.
Catawba County – Friday, 3 p.m.
Columbus County – Saturday, 11:45 p.m.
Gaston County – Friday, 3 p.m.
Lincoln County – Friday, 3 p.m.
Mecklenburg County – Saturday, noon
New Hanover County, Saturday, 11:45 p.m.
Rowan County – Saturday, 11:45 p.m.
Robeson County – Saturday, 11:45 p.m.
Stanly County – Saturday, 11:45 p.m.
Union County – Friday, 3 p.m.

Update 6:46 a.m.:

Public schools in North Carolina are required to be in session for 185 days or 1,025 hours. Some school officials say they may look to Spring Break or Saturdays for make-up days.

Update 6:42 a.m.:

The two-day snow-and-ice storm has finally stopped, but hazardous road conditions remain.

Kathleen Carroll is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Raleigh. She says temperatures rose into the upper 30s yesterday, causing the snow to start melting.

"The problem is that it didn't really dry out a whole lot before the sun set and temperatures started to fall again. So what's we've seen over night is a pretty good development of black ice on area roads."

Carroll says there's a Winter Weather advisory in effect until 10 a.m., so drivers should consider that when planning a morning commute.

Skies should be clearer today with highs in the upper 30s and 40s, but Carroll says there's no way to tell when streets and roads will be completely clear and dry.

Power:

The Tennessee Valley Authority says five of the top 10 energy usage days in its history occurred last month as the region saw three waves of low temperatures. Authority President and CEO Bill Johnson says January was demanding for the nation's largest public utility, which serves about 9 million people in seven southeastern states. Johnson said increased power usage will lead to higher bills during the next couple of months for consumers, adding that affordable energy is TVA's priority.

THURSDAY: Update 5:45 p.m.:

Look at the complete list of school closings to date.

Update 5:40 p.m.:

Reporter Reema Khrais found kids in Chatham county enjoying the weather.

Update 5:32 p.m.:

We've asked WUNC listeners to share their favorite images from the storm. Here's one:

Update 5:23 p.m.:

Update 5:15 p.m.:

Info from NC State Emergency Response Team about dealing with abandoned vehicles:

  • For vehicles that have been abandoned along the roadway: Highway Patrol, National Guard and/or NCDOT crews will check to be sure there are no occupants. If there are, troopers will get the occupants to a safe location.
  • Highway Patrol is tagging the abandoned vehicles to show that they've been checked. Those vehicles are being left in place UNLESS they are blocking the road.
  • Vehicle owners can go back -ONCE IT IS SAFE TO DO SO - and get their vehicles.
  • If cars or trucks are the path of the salt/sand trucks, the DOT Incident Management Assistance Patrol will move those vehicles to the shoulder where possible. In other cases, the Highway Patrol and local law enforcement are coordinating with towing companies to move vehicles to a safe location.

Update 5:02 p.m.:

A North Carolina family of six is recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning after trying to keep warm by bringing a charcoal grill indoors. All are expected to survive.

Lost heat? Leave generators, grills, or other fuel-burning devices outdoors. DHHS says 400 people die and 20,000 need emergency treatment a year across the country due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Update 4:58 p.m.:

What was it like for those who stayed overnight at the Streets at Southpoint Mall last night? "It was the BEST,” said Laura, who works at the Sleep Number store. “Because I was just laying on a really luxurious bed at zero gravity looking at my phone at all these people stuck and I’m like ‘I’ll get out when I can.’”

Dave Dewitt's full story, including the interview with the man who got locked inside the mall is here.

Update 4:20 p.m.:

Officials at RDU say both runways are open and ready for commercial flights to resume. Many airline carriers are planning on reduced schedules throughout the rest of the day, though. JetBlue, Air Canada Jazz and United Airlines have canceled all flights scheduled for the rest of the day. Main roads leading to the airport have been cleared, but motorists should use caution when driving there.  Contact your airline to make sure first!

Also, the number of power outages across North Carolina is going down, even as the second snow and freezing rain event in as many days makes its way across the state. North Carolina Emergency Management reports that 120,000 customers are currently without power. (That’s about a ten percent decrease from earlier this afternoon.)

Wake County is now at just below 10,000 customers without power. Power outages are below 1,000 in the rest of the Triangle and Triad.

The worst-hit area is still the southeastern part of the state. Around 40,000 customers in and around Wilmington are still without power.
 

Update Thur 3:56 p.m.:

Nathan Ramsey (R) represents Buncombe county in the General Assembly. Ramsey is a dairy farmer and an attorney as well. He's tweeted some great shots from his farm today:

Update Thur 1:31 p.m.:

We're asking Facebook fans to share their snow pictures. Here are the first two:

Your submissions, too

If you have a snow day shot you'd like to share, you can leave on as a comment on our Facebook page, or tweet it to use at @wunc.

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Ice Storm
8:45 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Ice Storm Could Rival 2002 Storm Outages

Meteorologists say coming icy conditions could be similar to the ice storm that hit North Carolina in 2002.
Credit Justinsomnia / licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License

Forecasters say a serious ice storm is headed our way.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Moneypenny says conditions could be similar to those of a 2002 ice storm that caused long power-outages across the state.

Ice increases the risk of branches snapping power lines, and of motorists sliding off the road into utility poles.

Moneypenney says parts of the Piedmont could receive up to five inches of snow. It will fall on ground that's already frozen, and the air isn't likely to warm up until the weekend.

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Weather supplies
8:40 am
Wed February 12, 2014

North Carolinians Are Stocking Up Before The Storm

North Carolinians are stocking up on supplies as they prepare for a storm that will bring heavy snow and ice.
Credit Photo by mtsofan / John / found on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

The National Weather Service is calling for an ice storm, not unlike one that crippled the state in 2002. Home and business owners are on the lookout for rock salt, but they're having trouble finding it.

Eileen Beatty manages Pope True Value Hardware in Durham. She says winter inventory has gotten slim since the last snowstorm.

“We don't have anything here. All the salt is gone. Kerosene heaters are gone. Electric heaters are gone. I got two snow shovels left... Two saucers and two sleds,” Beatty said. “And that's it.”

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Environment
7:21 am
Wed February 12, 2014

Many Questions, Few Answers About Eden NC Coal Ash Spill

The Dan River flows through Danville, VA
Credit Jeff Tiberii

Jeff Tiberii reports on a public meeting related to the recent coal ash spill in Eden, NC.

More than 100 people filled the city hall chambers in Danville, Virginia last night. They heard from federal and state officials about clean-up efforts following a recent coal ash spill in Eden, NC. A pipe underneath a coal ash pond there ruptured ten days ago,

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Weather
4:44 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

NC Schools: What's Open And What's Closed

(File Photo)
Credit ecksunderscore via Flickr Creative Commons

Schools and daycares across the state are closing, or have delayed openings due to inclement weather. ABC 11 is keeping an up-to-date list. (Refresh your browser to see changes.)

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Environment
1:33 pm
Tue February 11, 2014

[VIDEO] Division 5 Maintenance Yard, NCDOT, Readies The Salt To Combat Ice

Truck being loaded with salt, Craven County (2/11/14)
Credit NC DOT
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The State of Things
11:39 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Haiti Four Years Later: A Journalist's Perspective

Haiti earthquake devastation
Credit Wikimedia

In the four years since a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, billions of dollars of aid have flowed into the country. But the stream of funding comes with its own complications. Journalist and writer Amy Wilentz has lived, worked and reported on Haiti for more than three decades.

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Weather
10:50 am
Tue February 11, 2014

Power Companies Are Bracing For Ice, Outages

Ice is expected to cover most of North Carolina this week, which means power outages are likely.
Credit David Park, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on 27 Dec 2009. / Wikipedia Creative Commons

While the state transportation department is already out salting roads, utility companies are closely monitoring the weather forecast today.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Ryan Ellis said light snow is likely this afternoon, getting heavy tomorrow into Thursday. By tomorrow afternoon, he said, ice will coat much of the state.

Jane Pritchard is a spokeswoman for the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives. She said it would take a heavy snowfall to mess with power lines, but just a half-inch of ice can do a lot of damage.

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The State of Things
12:02 pm
Thu February 6, 2014

Duke Energy Coal Ash Spill

Volunteers with the Dan River Basin Association, graduate students from Duke University and staff with the environmental group Appalachian Voices collect water samples on the Dan River after a massive coal ash spill.
Credit Eric Chance / Appalachian Voices

 When a stormwater pipe burst in Eden, N.C. on Sunday, more than 80,000 tons of coal ash rushed into the Dan River. The waste from the retired Duke Energy coal-fired power plant poses possible threats to humans and wildlife in the region. Host Frank Stasio discusses the coal ash spill and its ramifications with WUNC reporter Jeff Tiberii.

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