Weather

North Carolinians are remembering a paralyzing ice storm that happened 10 years ago today.

About 1-point-8 million people were without power at the storm's height. Residents, businesses and first responders were all at the storm's mercy. Many of them have learned lessons a decade later. Barry Porter of the American Red Cross says mobilizing before any storm is important

Barry Porter: "We have to get our materials and supplies so we partner with government agencies to know which shelters can be opened. Which ones have power ability on their own."

Residents along North Carolina's coast are watching to see what Hurricane Sandy does in the Atlantic.

It's the first day of Spring but it may feel like winter never really settled in. State Climatologist Ryan Boyles says it was the 8th-warmest winter on record in North Carolina and the 6th-driest. He says that's had some up-sides.

Ryan Boyles: Recreation has been much higher this year; people have been able to really get out and enjoy the outdoors this past winter because we've had such mild temperatures. Snow removal costs have been very small this past winter, especially compared to the previous two winters. But there are some negative impacts as well.

Emergency management officials are encouraging businesses and citizens to create safety plans for severe weather.

Jeff Tiberii: Last year North Carolina had 63 tornadoes touch down, more than double the state's annual average. Julia Jarema is with the department of public safety. She says each year there are thousands of severe weather warnings throughout the state. And she adds, knowing what to do before the weather moves through is a critical step:

A warm, mild winter so far may help driving conditions later in the year. The state has put aside about 50 million dollars to take care of winter weather conditions. But the Department of Transportation has only spent about eight million on maintaining roads so far this winter. Steve Abbott is a spokesman for the North Carolina Department of Transportation.

The US Department of Agriculture says winters aren't as cold as they used to be in North Carolina. It has released its first new map of planting zones in more than 20 years. Tony Avent is the owner of Plant Delights Nursery in Raleigh. He was a technical advisor on the map. He says its detailed, interactive features surpass anything previously available.

Frigid temperatures are affecting many across the state today.

Jeff Tiberii: Eric Murphy is a hot dog vendor in downtown Greensboro. He works in front of City Hall for five and a half hours each week day, serving dogs, chili, chips and drinks. During today’s lunch hour it was 31 degrees.

Hurricane Irene
nasa.gov

North Carolina forecasters are keeping an eye on Hurricane Irene as it makes its way toward the southeast. The storm became a Category 2 hurricane late last night and is expected to strengthen to Category 3 later today. Meteorologist Katie Roussy says the latest forecast has North Carolina in the path of the storm.

Residents of North Carolina are being urged to get ready for hurricane season which officially begins next week. Forecasters and other officials are using this week to highlight some of things you can do to prepare for the big storms. Jeff Orrock is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. He says a busy forecast means its time to get supplies like food, water, medicine and batteries purchased and organized.

weather
noaa.gov

North Carolina's Severe Weather Awareness week is underway. Meteorologists at the National Weather Service in Raleigh say it's the time of year when the threat of thunderstorms and other severe weather returns to the area. Among this week's events is a statewide tornado drill Wednesday morning. Meteorologist Darin Figurskey says seasonal weather changes can cause twisters to develop during the spring and summer months.

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