Charlotte’s first winter storm of the season turned out to be more wet than white.
A potent low pressure system brought record-setting rainfall to the city Thursday but left most areas with only conversation-level snowfall – enough to coat cars and lawns, but not enough to close schools, at least in Mecklenburg County and points south and east.
But plummeting temperatures Friday morning allowed moisture from Thursday’s storm to freeze in spots before daybreak, leading to dozens of wrecks across the region.
And thousands of residents across the region spent at least part of the night without electricity as gusty winds toppled trees whose roots had become weakened by days of heavy rain.
By Friday, temperatures climbed above the freezing mark around 9 a.m. and were headed to the upper 40s by afternoon. Even milder weather is predicted for the weekend, before much colder air arrives early next week.
The storm’s biggest problems for Charlotte were the icy patches Friday morning and the heavy rain Thursday.
At least four wrecks were reported between 6 and 7:30 a.m. in a five-mile stretch of Interstate 485 in Mint Hill and Matthews, with each of those incidents blamed on icy patches. Another bad spot was the area near the I-485-Interstate 77 interchange in Pineville.
There was one storm-related fatality – a motorist whose car slid overnight on Interstate 40 in Burke County, hit the median and then was struck by a tractor-trailer.
Gusty winds that developed Thursday evening caused thousands of power outages. Duke Energy reported more than 22,000 outages at 3:30 a.m., although that number had been cut to about 12,000 by 7:30 a.m.
Of those, about 2,000 outages were in Mecklenburg County.
At the height of the outages, around 10 p.m. Thursday, more than 9,400 Mecklenburg County customers were without power.
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