2014 snowstorm
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.

ice on everything
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.

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.”

 Image of a branch that has been subjected to freezing rain within the previous 24 hours. Note the branch is completly encapsulated in ice. Some melting has occurred as temperatures were around 0 Celsius
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.

Salvation Army Logo
The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army in Fayetteville administers two funds for those in financial need. The first, know as CIP (Crisis Intervention Program) is there to help people whose electricity could be cut off at any minute.

The second, known as LEAP (pronounced "lee-app") is a seasonal fund to help cover higher-than-usual heating bills. After a polar vortex and an uncharacteristically heavy snowfall, LEAP is being put to the test this week.

MAYPORT, Fla. (Aug. 14, 2008) Bags and vials of blood await processing during the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) Blood drive at Naval Station Mayport. The ASBP program is different from other blood donations because all of the donations go straight t
Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Gay / United States Navy, ID 080814-N-0486G-006

The Polar Vortex isn’t loosening its grip on North Carolina. Freezing temperatures hit a record-low seven degrees in Elizabeth City this morning. Chowan County in the eastern part of the state had 9 inches of snow on the ground by yesterday afternoon.

But a series of cold spells and and days of icy roads have led to the cancellation of dozens of blood drives.

Lu Esposito of the Red Cross said the Triangle region is short 1,500 units of blood of all types.

school bus with snow
ecksunderscore via Flickr Creative Commons

With many schools across eastern and central North Carolina still closed this morning, school officials say they are working to ensure students make up the appropriate number of days.

Each school year, most districts build in additional days in case of closings due to inclement weather.

Jeff Nash, a spokesman for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system, says his district designated eight days that could be used to make up time.

Still shot from Youtube video
Carolina Designs Realty

Interested in really seeing how things look on the Coast? Some brave soul at Carolina Designs Realty strapped a helmet to his head and recorded his ventures out this morning:

"Here's my attempt to make it to the beach this morning on the Outer Banks. The van was stuck so I had to resort to other measures. Luckily the old trusty Yamaha TTR 125 was there to help me with the job":

Patches the Polar Bear enjoys space to himself at the NC Zoo.
North Carolina Zoo via Twitter

The North Carolina Zoo posted a terrific video: the resident polar bear enjoys a paddle.

(The zoo is currently closed due to the cold conditions.)

Rick Anderson @OBXPhotos via Twitter

Crews have been out all night, plowing and salting roads in the areas affected by last night's snowstorm. Roads and bridges are open, but many secondary roads still have snow and ice. The NC Department of Transportation reports that high winds on N.C. 12 in Dare County have blown sand on the road through the night. The road is open, but may be down to one lane in some places.

Most of us know the tips for driving on snow and ice: drive cautiously, leave extra room between you and the car in front of you. Here are some tips you may not know: