Snow Blankets North Carolina As Officials Continue To Warn Of Dangerous Roads
The deep freeze that killed at least 15 people and shut down much of the South began to relent Thursday as crews worked to clear roads blanketed by a slow-moving storm that left ice and snow in places that usually enjoy mild winters.
The snow stopped by early morning after the storm blew off shore, but North Carolina officials urged drivers to stay home while crews took their first crack at roads coated just hours earlier by the storm.
"This is an extraordinary event to have this much snow all across the state. We aren't used to that. We're working as hard as we can," said North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper.
Even low hills in unplowed residential neighborhoods proved too much for drivers in northern Durham County, where the storm dumped up to 12 inches of snow on Wednesday. Forecasters say Greensboro received roughly eight inches, and Winston-Salem saw six inches.
Mark Foley, 24, wore a hat and jacket as he worked to start his pickup truck covered in a half-foot of snow in a Durham driveway. After a few minutes in the 15-degree air, he was able to go pick up an in-home health aide for his disabled father.
"My lock was frozen, so I couldn't even unlock the door. So I had to use some warm water," he said holding an empty pitcher. "It's more snow than we thought we were going to get."
Two-thousand state trucks were out plowing and salting in North Carolina a day after the storm dumped as much as an inch per hour from the mountains to the coast. Some stretches of interstate highway were still covered in icy spots or only partially plowed.
Cooper said North Carolina has the second-most state-maintained roads behind Texas, and asked the public to help by staying home.
"I know we all get stir crazy and cabin fever. But staying off the roads right now is important for us," the governor said.
Cooper also reported the state's first weather fatality, after a minivan slid off an icy road and overturned in a canal in Washington County early Thursday.
State troopers responded to more than 2,300 crashes, while local police reported hundreds more. From Charlotte to Raleigh, North Carolina's five most populous cities all saw significant snow from a system that followed an atypical west-to-east path across the state — and moved more slowly than forecasters had predicted.
While warmer temperatures are melting some of the accumulation away, forecasters are warning residents that coming cold temperatures will re-freeze some roads, leading to dangerous black ice that could cause problems on the roads.