Most of the Piedmont is under a Winter Storm Warning until 7 a.m. Friday. Freezing rain and sleet will create slick travel conditions Thursday. Emergency officials say downed trees and power lines are also a concern.
Jimmy Taeger, a meteorologist with The National Weather Service in Raleigh, says the system will bring what's called cold air damming into the region. It's when a layer of cold air gets trapped. He says that will impact how much ice the area sees.
“The mountains, the upper level of the mountains, are going to be warmer than what it's going to be in parts of the Triad — because the cold air is going to be stuck at the surface,” says Taeger. “So it's interesting to keep the Triad colder because of that, but it's also going to be more of a mess when it comes to freezing rain.”
Officials with the North Carolina Department of Transportation say rain creates challenges with brining roads before ice hits. But agency spokesperson Aaron Moody says crews are prepared. They will work in shifts overnight and in the morning to treat the roads. Moody says they will focus on primary and interstate roads first.
“If you don't have to go out, don't,” says Moody. “And if you do, just be mindful of how dangerous it is and be mindful of the other people around you and the crews that are out there working that are going to be out there doing their best to take care of any trouble spots as soon as possible.”
He says NCDOT will have more than 26,000 tons of salt on hand between Divisions 7 and 9, which cover most of the northern Triad counties up to the Virginia line between Stokes and Caswell counties.
NCDOT Triad crews are preparing for ❄ weather, loading trucks with salt and ensuring they are ready to respond. Be mindful of crews working to clear roads.— NCDOT Triad Area (@NCDOT_Triad) February 17, 2021
Winter weather driving tips ➡️ https://t.co/nveFDdvJ8Y
For real-time traffic conditions ➡️ https://t.co/DJf1TIOIPl. pic.twitter.com/MBkcvodotm
Duke Energy is also on high alert. The company is adding more resources to respond to potential power outages expected from the incoming winter storm.
More than 1,000 line workers have been called in to assist from Florida and the Midwest. The company says this is in addition to around 300 that are already stationed in the area.
Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks says crews have been restoring power to thousands of customers across the state who lost power over Valentine's weekend, but this storm poses some different challenges.
“You have trees that are weakened and ground that's still saturated from the previous storm,” he says. “So you have a lot of conditions there that make it likely we will see outages. Statewide, we are looking at a multi-day restoration most likely with this storm.”
Duke Energy projects 1 million power outages in N.C. & S.C. due to an approaching winter storm. Over 5,400 workers & contractors are ready to respond. We urge customers to prepare for extended outages & make plans for elderly or those with special needs. https://t.co/x81fxGDdJb pic.twitter.com/oWVFA31YJW— Duke Energy (@DukeEnergy) February 17, 2021
Brooks urges Duke Energy customers to prepare as much as possible and to go through a personal checklist of emergency essentials in case of extended power outages.
The National Weather Service says most of the Triad could see around a half-inch of ice.
Meteorologists there say the precipitation will clear out on Friday. The weekend will be dry with temperatures in the 40s.
*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news