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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to resume classes Friday

By Steve Lyttle and Joe DePriest
slyttle@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/30/07/49/upYsk.Em.138.JPG|159
    - Davie Hinshaw, dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
    Drivers traveling on Park Road toward downtown early Thursday. DAVIE HINSHAW, dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/07/02/cdnJQ.Em.138.jpeg|415
    Davie Hinshaw - The Charlotte Observer
    Jose Gonzalez with Fitzpatrick Lawn and Landscape spreads de-icing pellets on the sidewalk and parking lot at Archdale Commons Shopping Center on South Boulevard early Wed. morning, Jan. 29, 2014
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/07/59/QLLL5.Em.138.jpeg|178
    Davie Hinshaw - The Charlotte Observer
    A wreck was being cleared on Carowinds Boulevard at Choate Circle early Wednesday morning, Jan. 29, 2014
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/18/30/4M9Vb.Em.138.jpg|500
    Joe Depriest - Joe DePriest, jdepriest@charlotteobserver.com
    Buddy Barnhill and his West Highland Terrier, Zoi, pose Wednesday in their icy Cramerton neighborhood.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/15/31/jjy6z.Em.138.JPG|316
    John D. Simmons - jsimmons@charlotteobserver.com
    The Charlotte region was blanketed by an overnight snow that began Tuesday afternoon. Tori Whaley, 15, waves at friends as she glides down a hill at North Stone Country Club in Huntersville Wednesday January 29, 2014.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students will head back to class on Friday, with the district saying all buses will run on their normal schedules tomorrow.

The district closed on Wednesday and Thursday after a winter storm left ice-slick roads across the county.

The recovery from the storm continued Thursday as temperatures went above the freezing mark for the first time since Tuesday morning. The above-freezing conditions, coupled with sunshine, are expected to melt much of the snow and ice still on the ground.

Road conditions Thursday were much better than Wednesday morning, when iced-over streets caused hundreds of wrecks across the region.

Temperatures dropped to 7 degrees Thursday in Charlotte, but road crews worked hard overnight, spreading salt and calcium chloride to melt patches of ice that formed.

It was even colder elsewhere in the Piedmont. At 7 a.m., Salisbury had a reading of 2 degrees, and it was 3 in Taylorsville and 4 in Statesville. Albemarle and Lincolnton had readings of 6 degrees.

There were only a few reports of black ice early Thursday, and those were mostly on secondary roads. The region’s interstate highways and other major routes appeared to be in good shape.

Saleem Khattak, Charlotte’s streets superintendent, said he hoped the calcium chloride would deal effectively with the ice.

“Salt does not work well when temperatures drop below about 18 to 20 degrees, but the calcium chloride is designed to work on colder temperatures,” Khattak said.

Jen Thompson of the N.C. Department of Transportation said state crews in a five-county district that includes Mecklenburg used 2,200 tons of salt on area roads. She said 177 employees and 176 pieces of equipment were involved in the effort, and she added that many of those crews worked again late Wednesday and early Thursday.

Ice-covered roads Wednesday morning triggered hundreds of wrecks across the region, even though many motorists heeded the advice of officials and stayed home. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reported about 600 wrecks between 4 p.m. Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, several times the normal amount.

One of the worst storm-related wrecks took place about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday on the ramp from Interstate 77 to Trade Street. Police reported a motorist was pinned in the wreckage, and at least one person was injured. That collision closed the ramp for more than an hour.

The weather was a contributing factor in two separate traffic fatalities Tuesday in Surry County, about 80 miles north of Charlotte, the N.C. Highway Patrol said.

In one case, the driver of a pickup truck slid down an embankment and struck a tree, killing a front-seat passenger, authorities said. In the other case, a minivan lost control going around a curve on N.C. 104, crossed the center line, and hit a pickup truck. A passenger in the front seat of the minivan was killed, the Highway Patrol said.

Charges are pending in each case, according to troopers.

Most parts of the Charlotte region got only 1 or 2 inches of snow from the storm, but the snow was frozen by temperatures that tumbled to 16 degrees around daybreak Wednesday. To the southeast of Charlotte, where a bit more snow accumulated, road conditions remained slick throughout the day.

For the region’s students, however, it was a rare snow day.

In the Huntingtowne Farms neighborhood of south Charlotte, children took to the hills for sledding.

A sales clerk at the Home Depot store in Matthews said business had been brisk since Tuesday morning for items such as ice-melting compound and shovels.

Buddy Barnhill of Cramerton found that taking his two dogs – a West Highland terrier and an Airedale – outside to potty took longer than usual Wednesday in the snowy conditions.

“They can’t find the grass,” he said. “They sniff and sniff and try to find some. And the snow is cold on their paws.”

But as Zoi, the West Highland terrier, scampered in the snow, Barnhill said, “she loves playing in it.” Staff writers Rick Rothacker and Hilary Trenda contributed.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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