Local

Sleet, freezing rain coat the Carolinas; roads are slick

Officials warn that icy streets are likely to be a problem for Wednesday’s morning commute. Sun and warmer temperatures melted some of the ice and snow, but a refreeze was expected on Tuesday night.
Officials warn that icy streets are likely to be a problem for Wednesday’s morning commute. Sun and warmer temperatures melted some of the ice and snow, but a refreeze was expected on Tuesday night. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte leaders urged people to stay off streets early Wednesday as some remain frozen following this week’s ice storm.

A quarter-inch of freezing rain fell late Monday and early Tuesday, according to meteorologists. Temperatures above freezing melted some of the ice, and crews cleared many major streets, but the Charlotte Department of Transportation warned that wet spots could refreeze. CDOT encouraged commuters to delay their travels until 9 a.m.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be closed Wednesday. Most other districts in the region are also closed, including Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell-Statesville and Mooresville Graded.

A half-inch to an inch of sleet fell before transitioning to freezing rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Krentz said. The freezing rain compacted the sleet, making roads all the more dangerous, he said.

Freezing rain amounts varied, from 1/10 inch at UNC Charlotte to 1/4 inch in Union and Gaston counties and parts of Charlotte, Krentz said. Charlotte also had a half-inch of sleet.

South Carolina’s Upstate was harder hit, with freezing rain totaling up to 1/2inch and wider power outages.

One person died in North Carolina as a result of the storm. Mykayia Quintara Wilder, 19, lost control of her car due to icy conditions in Hertford County and hit another car head on, the N.C. Highway Patrol said.

About 115,240 Duke Energy customers were without power just after the storm. That number had dwindled by nearly half late Tuesday, and the utility all power to be restored by Wednesday morning.

During the height of the storm, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police responded to nearly 190 auto accidents and more than 70 stranded motorist calls, Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said at a Tuesday news conference. Most drivers, Estes said, heeded officials’ advice and stayed home.

City buses and rail lines are expected to run normally, if slowly, and garbage and recycling collection is on its usual schedule. Sidewalks remain treacherous, and city officials warned residents to avoid walking in the streets.

Only one major road closed in Charlotte due to the ice, inbound Independence Boulevard onto Interstate 277, but it reopened early Tuesday.

A jack-knifed tractor trailer later blocked the two right lanes of Interstate 85 North near W.T. Harris Boulevard in north Charlotte around 9 a.m.

Side streets have not been treated and remain dangerous.

“everyone that is driving those streets should use plenty of caution,” transportation director Danny Pleasant said at the news conference.

The cold is expected to persist through the week, the National Weather Service said.

Snow showers are possible before 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Thursday and Friday should be sunny, but highs are forecast to reach only 23 and 28 respectively. The National Weather Service is forecasting record lows for both days.

A 30 percent chance of snow returns Friday night and a 50 percent chance is forecast for Saturday, although all rain is forecast for Saturday night and Sunday.

A chance of snow and rain returns on Monday.

Bruce Henderson, Hope Paasch and Katie Peralta contributed.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer

  Comments