The Carolinas were brought to a standstill by 24 hours of ice and snow, but Charlotteans refused to stay in their homes Saturday.
As temperatures climbed into the mid-30s, malls and other business reopened, flights resumed and postal carriers began delivering mail again – mostly on a delayed scheduled. Still, the National Weather Service warned about refreezing overnight.
And, of course, the city made time to play while the snow lasted.
This included at least 100 children and adults bundled up in coats, hats, boots and mittens to race down the hills at Latta Park in Dilworth on plastic toboggans.
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“You gotta get out,” Peter Barlowe, 49, said as daughter Lydia, 11, sped down a hill with friend Elena Aller, 6, their hands in the air during the 75-yard ride. “You get this two or three days of the year, the snow. You gotta enjoy it.”
“It’s great exercise,” said Elena’s dad, Charles Caspari, 54. He gave the toboggan a strong push-start each time the girls returned to the top of the hill near the Cathedral of Saint Patrick.
The girls thanked their dads by humming snowballs at them.
Roads at the park were icy yet passable, which summed up most of the less traveled streets in the region Saturday. It will likely be the same Sunday, officials said.
The storm resulted in snow-sleet accumulations of 3 to 4 inches in the city. But warming temperatures Saturday promised most roads would be passable in time for the Carolina Panthers NFC Championship game Sunday, when the high is expected to be in the mid-40s.
Across North Carolina, the weather caused six deaths in traffic accidents and tens of thousands of people to lose power. On Saturday morning, 148,000 homes were without power, state officials said.
Eastern North Carolina took the brunt of the storm, particularly Wake County, which had 61,000 people without power early Saturday. Motorists in that region were told to stay off roads Saturday, including a call by Gov. Pat McCrory for fans to skip Saturday’s ACC game between Duke University and N.C. State. It was played as scheduled.
The six traffic fatalities included two in the Charlotte region: A 19-year-old college student in the Hickory area died when her car flipped over; and a 6-year-old boy was killed in Iredell County, said state officials.
North Carolina Highway Patrol officials reported 2,000 crashes and 659 calls for service. In Rowan County, troopers continued searching for someone who used an all-terrain vehicle to run over a trooper Saturday during an incident in which shots were fired. The trooper was seriously injured, officials said.
In the Charlotte region, troopers responded to 270 wrecks on interstates and U.S. roads, said State Highway Patrol Trooper John Burgin. Most of the wrecks were minor, he said.
The storm caused most flights to be canceled Friday at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, but limited operations returned by noon Saturday. Widespread cancellations persisted, however, as the storm moved up the East Coast.
American Airlines, which has its second-largest hub in Charlotte, said the storm resulted in the cancellation of 2,100 flights Friday and 2,000 flights Saturday across its system.
Correspondent Steve Lyttle contributed