Triangle bracing for early winter storm
The Triangle is gearing up for a rare early-December snowstorm, potentially ruining weekend plans for holiday parties, shopping and putting up Christmas trees.
The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning Friday afternoon for several central North Carolina counties, including Orange, Alamance and Guilford. The weather service also expanded its winter storm watch to include Durham, Wake, Johnston and other counties.
“This storm comes at a time of year where North Carolinians are usually hearing Christmas carols about snow; not actually seeing it,” Gov. Roy Cooper said during a news conference Friday. “But this time the real thing is headed our way.”
Later Friday, Cooper declared a state of emergency ahead of the storm.
The impact of the storm is uncertain, but the National Weather Service on Friday predicted that some parts of Alamance and Orange counties could see up to 12 inches of snow, and Durham could see 8 inches. Farther east, Raleigh could see 4 to 6 inches of snow.
The precipitation is expected to start as soon as late Saturday and continue into Monday evening.
Snow, sleet and ice could create hazardous driving conditions during that time, according to the weather service.
“Travel is going to be bad,” said Ryan Ellis, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh.
The expected storm prompted Amtrak to cancel all of its train routes in North Carolina on Sunday. This includes all three Piedmont trains between Raleigh and Charlotte, and the Carolinian between Charlotte and New York City.
In addition, the northbound Silver Star between Miami and New York, which stops in Raleigh and Cary, was canceled for Saturday and Sunday, and the southbound Silver Star was canceled for Sunday and Monday.
Cooper urged residents to “be prepared to stay put for a few days when the storm rolls
IT’S NORTH CAROLINA. WE ARE USED TO IT. YOU COULD HAVE EVERY SEASON IN A WEEK.
Kim Davis, 28, of Durham
“It looks like there will be a wide range of snowfall out there,” he said.
In western North Carolina, the storm is expected to drop as much as 7 inches of snow and ice on the Charlotte area, according to the National Weather Service.
On Friday, the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore was headed to Asheville, which could see more than a foot of snow, the Charlotte Observer reported.
In the Triangle, crews were treating roads Friday in anticipation of snow and ice.
The weather service predicted Friday that Durham and Orange counties could see 0.05 inch of ice accumulation. Raleigh could see 0.01 inch.
Durham sent five trucks out during the morning hours to spread brine, said Marvin Williams, the city’s public works director.
The city has mounted plows and spreaders on more than 30 trucks, and crews will continue their work before and after the storm, Williams said. He warned, however, that whether some roads were cleared quickly would depend on the type of precipitation and the temperature.
“Snow is much easier to push off the roadway,” Williams said. “Whereas ice, once it gets on pavement and we get really cold temperatures, the ice sticks to the pavement and it is hard to break it off and scrape it off.”
Temperatures in the Triangle are expected to climb into the low to mid-40s Saturday, with an overnight low of 32. Sunday should be colder, with a high of 35 and an overnight low of 31.
Overnight lows are expected to drop into the 20s starting Monday.
In Raleigh, crews were on standby Friday to treat roads, spokesman John Boyette said.
“We could start those operations at any time depending on the storm,” he said. “We are ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at us.”
There was a sense of urgency in Durham, where many people spent their lunch break Friday stocking up on groceries in hopes of avoiding the rush for bread and milk. Some shoppers at a local Food Lion said they were worried not just about the roads and losing power, but about the possibility of falling trees.
“We have a big tree in front of my mom’s house,” said Ashanta Scarlett, 37, as she unloaded her cart filled with enough supplies to feed her mother, daughter and three nieces and nephews during the storm.
Others said they were ready, especially since they got plenty of stormpreparation practice for hurricanes in September and October.
“It’s North Carolina. We are used to it,” said Kim Davis, 28, of Durham. “You could have every season in a week.”