Monday Update: Fewer School Closings, Power Outages

Jan 22, 2016

WUNC's complete coverage of the winter storm's timeline, impact, and ongoing closures and power outages.  Check back throughout the day and evening.

MONDAY

Update 7:45 a.m.:

North Carolina troopers say at least six people died in the recent winter storm. The State Highway Patrol says one motorist died after hitting a tree in Hickory and other fatal wrecks were reported in Iredell, Johnston, Wilkes, Forsyth and Stokes counties.

About 50,000 customers in the Carolinas were without power at the height of the weekend's massive winter storm that dumped heavy snow further up the East Coast. But utility officials say crews worked quickly to restore power to far-flung customers in both states. The Duke Energy web site says a few hundred customers are still affected.

Icy roads have closed Wake County and Durham Public Schools, as well as Orange County, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Guilford, Forsyth, Alamance, and Chatham Counties, Nash-Rocky Mount Schools are closed.

Johnston County Schools are on a two-hour delay.

 

SUNDAY

Update 5:22 p.m.:

School closings are starting to roll in. So far, here's the list:

  • Wake County Schools
  • Durham Public Schools
  • Chapel Hill/Carrboro Schools
  • Chatham County Schools
  • Orange County Schools
  • Alamance/Burlington Schools
  • Granville County Schools
  • Person County Schools
  • Franklin County Schools
  • Halifax County Schools
  • Lee County Schools
  • Northampton County Schools
  • Vance County Schools

Update 10:15 a.m.:

Power is still out for about 45,000 or so customers across the state, according to Duke Energy's Outage map. Wake County continues to be have the most outages, at around 20,000. Duke Energy has restored power to about 350,000 customers in both North and South Carolina since Saturday.

Roads are still a mess early Sunday, thanks to freezing temperatures throughout most of the day and night. The state of emergency remains in place; NC Emergency Management will make an announcement when it is lifted.

Warmer temperatures today will lead to some melting, but temps will plunge below freezing again tonight, likely leading to a re-freeze.

UNC-Chapel Hill's basketball game against Va. Tech was moved up to 3 pm today to avoid travel problems later this evening. It comes after not many folks heeded Gov. McCrory's advice not to attend Saturday's NC State/Duke game (which Duke won.) The Carolina Panthers kickoff this evening at 6:30.

A question many parents are asking at this point of the snowed-in, three-day weekend: Will there be school tomorrow? That answer probably won't be known until this evening (and you probably aren't going to like it).

Check back here later today for school closings.

SATURDAY:

Update 12:30 p.m.:

A new update from the National Weather Service for eastern and central North Carolina: The NWS has issued a winter weather advisory that will start at 6pm tonight and last through noon Sunday. NWS forecasters say be prepared for gusty winds on Saturday and black ice Sunday morning.

Update 11:15 a.m.:

Governor McCrory has given another update this morning. Here's a summary of what he had to say:

- There have been two more weather-related fatalities, bringing the total up to six.

- 8-13 inches of snow in mountains

- Dual threat of ice and wind over next 24 hours; temperatures will not increase much, so melting will be minimal

- Roads today are in worse shape than yesterday

- Gov. asks that fans not attend the Duke/NC State men's basketball game due to treacherous conditions, advises fans to watch it on TV (Ed. note: game is still on, NC State also encourages fans to watch from home but is offering shuttle service for students from campus to PNC Arena.)

- "Main message: this isn't over."

Update 8am:

As massive amounts of snow hammer the mid-Atlantic and up the coast, North Carolina is still dealing with the aftermath. That includes around 150,000 without power, colder temperatures, lingering ice, and more snow.

According to NC Emergency Management, Wake County is the hardest hit, with about 62,000 customers with no electricity, as of 7:00 am Saturday morning.

NC DOT is urging everyone to stay off the roads throughout the day.

Here's a good reminder of what some folks are going through: video of a transformer exploding in Fuquay-Varina:

FRIDAY:

Update 10:30 pm:

According to NC Emergency Management (and with temperatures dipping), more than 136,000 households are without power at 9:00 pm. Stay safe. And warm.

Update 8:30 pm:

As of 7:45 pm tonight, no location on the eastern seaboard has gotten as much snow as the North Carolina mountains, according to the NWS:

Snowfall totals, as of 7:45 Friday, Jan. 22.
Credit NWS

Update 7:30 pm:

Duke Energy says still more than 80,000 customers without power - and now the outage reporting system is experiencing an outage.

Duke Energy outage reporting system is experiencing an outage.
Credit Duke Energy

Update 6:00 pm:

Duke Energy says more than 101,000 customers are currently without power across the state - 20,000 of them in Wake County. Local meteorologists are predicting another wave of precipitation in the Triangle and Triad around 8:00 - 9:00 tonight, as well as increased wind gusts. Sleet and freezing rain are expected to taper off after 11:00 pm.

WUNC will be updating this post throughout the evening and night, as news warrants.

Update 5:45 pm:

I-40 is closed in both directions in Johnston County, because power lines have fallen across the highway.

And as of 4:00 or so, Buncombe County has seen the most snow from the winter storm, according to Weather Underground.

Update 5:10 pm:

NC Highway Patrol reports there have been six weather-related fatalities across North Carolina.

Duke Energy is reporting nearly 70,000 customers statewide without power - three times more than just an hour ago. Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, says the majority of those without electricity are in Wake and Johnston Counties.

NC Electric Cooperatives report 16,500 outages. Dominion Power has 83.

The Red Cross has opened a number of shelters across the region. In addition to the one at Sanderson High School (see below) here's a list of shelters:

Hillside High School     

3727 Fayetteville Street

Durham, NC 27707          

Southern Middle School

515 Johnson St,

Aberdeen, NC 28315     

North Moore High School

1504 North Moore Rd

Robbins, NC 27325

Virginia Cross Elementary School

234 Cross School Road

Siler City, NC 27344

Northwood High School

310 Northwood High School Rd

Pittsboro, NC 27312

Update 4:45 pm:

It seems pretty clear that the two-hour period between 4:00 and 6:00 will be crucial for sleet/freezing rain in the Triangle, and the impact it may have on power outages. The National Weather Service in Raleigh says the risk for frozen precipitation will increase during this period.

Duke Energy reports approximately 20,000 customers are without power, mostly between Raleigh and Fayetteville. The number of outages in the mountains have diminished through the course of the day. Dominion Power, which serves northeastern North Carolina and much of the Outer Banks, reports just a few outages.

Update 4:30 pm:

Wake County has opened an emergency shelter for people affected by the winter storm. The shelter is located at: Sanderson High School, 5500 Dixon Drive, Raleigh.

Update 4:00 pm:

Power outages have spiked significantly in the past hour. The Duke Energy Outage Map is showing around 15,000 customers without electricity in the area between Raleigh and Fayetteville. Outages have not shown up in sizable numbers anywhere else in the Triangle, Triad, or down east.

Duke Energy says it has 6,000 crews on place to deal with the outages.

Sleet and freezing rain is expected to continue to fall throughout the state well into the evening and overnight.

Update 3:35 pm:

Power outages are increasing in the area just south of the Triangle. Up to more than 3,100 in Clayton. That's in addition to those listed below. Duke Energy says there are 1,700 outages in Wake County. Officials expect the number of outages to rise through the evening.

Update 3:05 pm:

A quick rundown of power outages in the Duke Energy service area in central NC:

Dunn area: 2,589

Smithfield: 1,200+

Fayetteville: 3,329

Laurinburg: 4,247

Winston-Salem: 2,972

Update 2:50 pm:

Is there a difference between sleet and freezing rain? Why yes, yes there is.

According to the National Weather Service:

Freezing rain occurs when the layer of freezing air is so thin that the raindrops do not have enough time to freeze before reaching the ground.  Instead, the water freezes on contact with the surface, creating a coating of ice on whatever the raindrops contact.

Sleet is simply frozen raindrops and occurs when the layer of freezing air along the surface is thicker. This causes the raindrops to freeze before reaching the ground.

Ice caused by freezing rain tends to lead to more power outages, as it sticks to branches and power lines.

Update 2:20 pm:

GoRaleigh will stop service tonight at 8pm.

GoTriangle will end tonight at 6pm. It will resume Saturday service on a limited basis at 10 am.

And we interrupt this rundown of power outages and tanker truck crashes to bring you this announcement: It’s great ski weather! Sugar Mountain resort in North Carolina reports fantastic conditions, with 20 inches of fresh, natural snow expected to fall by Sunday. Since you probably can’t get there, here’s the webcam feeds to make you feel even worse.

Update 2:15 pm:

WTVD is reporting that the tanker truck that overturned on I-85 in Henderson was carrying nail polish remover. The contents did not leak in the crash - although diesel fuel apparently did. Here's a fun fact: many of the chemicals in nail polish remover are toxic! And am I the only person who didn't know that nail polish remover gets transported by tanker truck?

WTVD is also reporting that the tanker has been removed from I-85 and the highway will reopen soon.

Update 2:00 pm:

Lots of photos and videos making the rounds out there surrounding #ncwx and #jonas, but this one seems to be gaining the most viral traction across the twitterverse: Curling in Chapel Hill:

Update 1:45 pm:

I-40 is becoming a parking lot, with weather-related congestion and accidents picking up through Durham and Wake Counties. Here's the latest from the NC DOT traffic cam at I-40 and Davis Drive:

Congestion on I-40 and Davis Dr. in Durham
Credit NC DOT

Also, Duke Energy is reporting more scattered power outages around the Triangle and Triad, including about 600 customers in Smithfield. In Southern Pines, about 1,200 customers are without electricity.

Update 1:07 pm:

Here's an email we just received from the folks at Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh:

The Helping Hand Mission is desperately in need of heaters. The mission has been giving out heaters all morning. Families has been calling frantically trying to get heaters to keep their homes warm. The mission his also distributing food bags for persons in need at two locations (501 New Bern Ave. and 623 Rock Quarry Rd.) we can be reached at (919)829-8048 or New Bern at 919-828-9744.

Power outage updated numbers are pretty much unchanged from an hour or so ago. These numbers could go up very quickly, as the wind is expected to pick up later today and as ice accumulates in urban centers.

Update 12:45 pm:

A lot of concerts and performances are getting canceled or postponed for tonight. David Menconi at the N&O is keeping track.

Update 12:10 pm:

According to NC DOT, a tanker truck has crashed on I-85 in Henderson, shutting down the highway in both directions.

Update Noon:

The Carolina Hurricanes will play tonight, as scheduled. And no, their game against the New York Rangers will not be held outside. Since North Carolina is currently under a State of Emergency due to the winter storm, the Hurricanes are offering a ticket exchange for fans who feel uncomfortable traveling to PNC Arena for tonight’s game. High school games have already been postponed.

In men's college basketball: Duke is at NC State on Saturday afternoon, while UNC is scheduled to play at Va. Tech Sunday evening. As of this update, both games are on. 

The Carolina Panthers' NFC Championship game is Sunday evening, and it's hard to imagine any scenario in which that game would not be played.

Update 11:25 am:

Duke Energy has brought in 3,000 additional crews from throughout the southeast to assist with possible power outages. That’s in addition to the 3,000 crews the utility already has in the state – for a total of more than 6,000. Most are currently on standby, says Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks, and can be deployed as conditions are expected to deteriorate into the evening hours.

Gov. McCrory Update, 10:30 am:

Gov. Pat McCrory gave a mid-morning update from the State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh.

He began his comments by announcing two weather-related fatalities, including one caused by an accident on I-95 this morning.

Here's what else the Governor had to say:

- About 6,000 customers are without power at this time, mostly in the western mountains and outside Charlotte.

- Most of the road issues are on I-95 and on I-40 in the mountains.

- About 90 percent of the schools are closed across the state.

- Encourages people to continue to stay off the roads.

- A lot of praise for state troopers, emergency workers, local police and officials, power companies, and even the media!

Update 10:14 am:

If you are a high school student and were scheduled to take the SAT this weekend, well... it looks like you may get a few more days to cram. SAT tests scheduled to be administered in Chapel Hill, Greensboro and other locations have been postponed. The College Board has a full list of NC test locations that have been rescheduled.

Also, Delta is the only airline running flights in and out of RDU today. One runway is open. The status of flights is, shall we say, fluid.

Power Outage Update: 10 am:

Best news of the day so far: almost no power outages to report across the Piedmont and eastern NC. A lot of the day - and storm - is left to go, so this could change quickly.

Let's hope the Duke Energy Outage Map stays like this 10 am update:

Power outages across the Piedmont and Triangle, as of 10 am.
Credit Duke Energy

More Closings: 9:14 am:

Both Raleigh and Durham waste and recycling pickup has been canceled for today. And GoDurham has announced it will suspend service at noon.

Traffic Update: 9:00 am:

What would normally be the tail end of morning rush hour is, instead, a snow/ice day for many commuters. But even with fewer vehicles on the road, Google Traffic shows slowdowns throughout the Triangle:

Traffic, 9 am, Friday Jan. 22
Credit Google Maps

Updated at 8:33 am:

The first winter storm of 2016 has brought snow across North Carolina's mountains and Piedmont. Across the Triangle, it's mostly freezing rain. In southeast NC, it's mostly rain.

Governor Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency across North Carolina. Two motorists died in crashes on icy roads in Forsyth and Stokes County Wednesday night. Roads are expected to get worse today.

Sleet on the ground in Durham.
Credit Dave DeWitt

Power Outages

Just a few hours into the storm, only small and scattered power outages have been reported by Duke Energy around Charlotte and west of Asheville, and none of significance in the Triangle and Triad.

If your power goes out, call Duke Energy at 1-800-POWERON or report an outage online. If you're a Dominion customer in northeastern NC, report an outage here.

Roads

State officials are asking North Carolinians not to venture out unless necessary.

McCrory says the Department of Transportation, Highway Patrol, and National Guard are out checking marooned vehicles for people inside. Once they've been checked, they'll mark the cars.

"DOT Crews will swiftly clear the road by pushing any vehicles that may impede traffic out of the roadway to the shoulder, so we don't have these large backups and have potential people stranded," Governor McCrory said.

If your car has been towed from the roadside, you can find information about its whereabouts on the North Carolina Highway Patrol web site.

Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson says motorists shouldn't rely on their own abilities when deciding whether to venture out.

WUNC parking lot at about 7 a.m.
Credit Eric Hodge / WUNC

"Remember, it's not just you that's out there. You've gotta make sure that you're aware of the fact that some of the danger won't be because you do something, it will be because you have to  deal with other people," Tennyson said. "So please think through that."

Tennyson says road crews are out checking cars along roadways for stranded motorists. Weather and road conditions are available on the Ready NC app and web site.

Transit

Go Raleigh and Go Durham are running all routes Friday. Go Triangle is reducing transit service today, and Chapel Hill and Cary have canceled their routes.

Airlines have canceled 400 flights in and out of RDU International Airport today. A handful of flights are still scheduled.

Closings

UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, NC State, and UNC-Greensboro have canceled classes.

Nearly all schools are closed as well:
Wake County, Durham County, Chapel Hill/Carrboro, Orange County, Cumberland County, Johnston County, Guilford County, Edgecombe, Franklin, Moore, and Chatham Counties. Person County, Lee County, Nash/Rocky Mount, Warren County, Northampton County, and Alamance/Burlington.

Durham, Chapel Hill, Greensboro and Burlington offices are closed, as is Fort Bragg.