Winter weather forecast from Severe Weather Center 9: A winter storm warning is in effect for Mecklenburg and surrounding counties until Thursday morning.
Snow accumulated in every neighborhood in the Charlotte area Wednesday.
About four inches of snow was recorded in Charlotte. The highest totals of snowfall have been between I-85 and I-40 with reports of 5-8 inches.
Slick, icy roads will have Department of Transportation crews across the area working through the night.
Charlotte DOT officials said snowplows and trucks will be treating major roadways.
A portion of Independence Boulevard was shut down Wednesday evening because a sheet of ice blanketed the road.
Statewide, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said it responded to nearly 1,600.
In Charlotte, road conditions caused 201 wrecks on Wednesday, 33 with injuries. Police said there were 55 road blockages and disabled vehicles.
Snowplows have been busy on the main roads, but secondary streets were posing problems and officials were urging drivers to stay home.
A group of volunteers called Tri-state 4x4 is helping people out on the roads, even driving them to and from work, free of charge.
“We're just a group of people helping people,” Patrick Fowler said. “We've got some ladies that dispatch for us through our web page. They'll let us know who needs help or needs rides.”
One by one, Channel 9 watched as children, parents and even pets enjoyed the snow at Veterans Park off Central Avenue at Plaza Midwood.
Children spent their day off from school sledding and building snowmen.
Around lunchtime, there were about 50 people sledding.
Families lugged their sleds, snowboards, and even a kiddie pool, to slide down the snowy hill.
Many found the hill at Veterans Park because they looked up the best place in Charlotte for sledding.
"It's awesome,” Daniel Courtney said. “It's a good day to spend outside with friends and family, having a good time.”
Melissa Ogle drove an hour and a half, from Elgin, South Carolina where schools were closed mostly because of rain, so her boys could play in the snow.
Within minutes, at least two other families joined.
“I just researched it and seen who had snow, and Charlotte, had about two or three inches, so I said, ‘Alright boys, get your snow stuff on, we're going to go play in snow.’”
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Emergency Management officials said an emergency warming shelter will remain open Wednesday night as temperatures continue to plummet overnight.
County and city leaders opened the shelter Tuesday at the Grady Cole Center, in Elizabeth, and it will stay open for families and couples until Thursday afternoon.
American Red Cross volunteers will operate the shelter with assistance from the Mecklenburg County staff. The Red Cross will also provide cots, blankets, meals and snacks.
Partner shelters are located at the following addresses:
- Salvation Army Center of Hope - 534 Spratt Street, Charlotte
- Men's Shelter of Charlotte - 1210 North Tryon Street, Charlotte
- Urban Ministry Center (Room in the Inn) - 945 North College Street, Charlotte
Officials determined that partnering shelters were expected to exceed total capacity since snow had been forecast for Charlotte.
In Mooresville, crews worked to repair power lines cause by a crash on Turnersburg Highway.
Shearers Road near Rocky River Road was also closed because of a crash.
Earlier, Mooresville road closed down several roads to prevent accidents.
Crews closed Timber Road, Rocky River Road, White Oaks Road, Bluefield Road and Lowrance Avenue during the snowfall, but Channel 9 saw drivers removing the cones and disregarding the warning.
Those roads have reopened.
Crews said they will continue to monitor those roads because all of them have deep slopes that can be dangerous when the wet roads turn icy.
“My phone told me it was only 30 percent chance (of snow),” driver Bill Hunter said. “This is close to 100 percent."
In Boone, flurries began to fall around 1 a.m. In Hickory, reporter Dave Faherty reported snow falling by 3 a.m., and it was sticking to the roads by 5 a.m. as temps dropped below freezing. By noon, it was still falling, covering streets that had been plowed just 30 minutes earlier.
There have been accidents across the foothills and the mountains, forcing police to shut down some roadways.
Road crews told Channel 9 they were going to try to clear as much snow from the roads as possible and put down salt and sand Wednesday night to combat those bitterly cold temps.
Most of the Interstate 85 corridor was forecast to see 3-5 inches, with slightly lower amounts in the foothills and farther south. The highest totals may end up being east of Charlotte, along the Highway 52 corridor, with more than 5 inches in spots.
Emergency crews in several counties told Channel 9 they responded to multiple crashes on the slippery roads. Drivers were urged to stay home if they could.
In Rowan County, I-85 southbound was closed near U.S. Route 29 because of a crash.
In Gaston County, I-85 northbound was blocked near Cox Road after two tractor-trailers crashed around 10:30 a.m.
"I basically came in today, I'm the pastor of a local church, to tell my secretary who was already in the office that things were getting worst and to go ahead and go home,” Rev. Joseph Taber said.
In Concord, about 2 inches of snow had fallen by noon, and police told Channel 9 that conditions were getting worse across the city. It was so bad that Concord Mills announced it would be closed Wednesday.
Channel 9 spoke with a woman who drove on I-85 from Charlotte to Concord Wednesday morning, and she said the commute was a little dangerous.
“I saw several cars that were swerving and slipping a little bit,” said Stephanie Gregg. “Those two-wheel drive cars pose a little bit of a challenge in this snow.”
In Union County, Highway 74 is filled with shopping centers, but not many of the stores stayed open Wednesday afternoon.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office said there have not been any major issues on the roads, only minor wrecks because of the weather.
Despite the limited crowds, workers were busy trying to clear parking lots along Highway 74.
In Monroe, some crews started working at 4 a.m. Wednesday, which several workers told Channel 9 they are thankful drivers, for the most part, stayed off the roads.
“I get aggravated sometimes cause it creeps and crawls, but you know today, it has been nice, but I am worried about the slick spots,” worker Harold Clanton said.
Local town offices closed in Monroe because of the weather. The town manager is monitoring the conditions to determine if they will open Thursday.
The snowfall is winding down. Temperatures won’t move much, though, falling to near freezing later and staying there all day long.
As of 5 p.m., Channel 9 saw roughly 168 flights canceled and 315 more delayed at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Some airlines are allowing passengers traveling through Charlotte to change flights without paying a fee because of the storm.
More than 2,000 flights have been canceled across the country.
The airport tweeted that one runway was closed in order to de-ice planes. Officials said 150 planes had to be de-iced.
Snow hit Atlanta overnight hours before it reached Charlotte, which caused delays between Charlotte-Douglas and Hartsfield-Jackson airports.
With temps expected to drop into the teens overnight, that melted snow will freeze and make roads treacherous on Thursday morning.
Most major roads in the immediate metro area are just wet, thanks to the brine. The secondary roads have a snow covering. Brine loses its effectiveness as temperatures fall through the 20s.
Temperatures will fall to the teens overnight.
Any remaining snow on the ground will melt on Thursday as temperatures warm to the mid-40s.
Those temps will climb into the 60s for the weekend.
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Checkers play, close admission to public
Checkers chief operating officer Tera Black has been involved in minor league hockey in some capacity for 22 years.
What happened Wednesday at Bojangles Coliseum has only happened once before in her career.
The Checkers game against Bridgeport was played, but it was closed to the public.
“Based on all the variables, our sloping parking lot, the amount of ice that accumulates in the parking lot during a storm of this nature, we erred on the side of caution,” Black said.
The 250 or so service members who staff a game were also told to stay home.
The game was run by the front office.
Black was at the DJ Booth, Director of Finance Jamie Black was the public address announcer, Senior Vice President Shawn Lynch, who is normally the one meeting and greeting fans before games, was instead helping keep the ice clean for the players.
“We forget how many people it takes to put on a game,” Lynch said. “We get to wear a different hat today, get to be a little closer to the action and gain an appreciation for what our staff is doing on a day-to-day basis to put this game on.”
There were a few diehard fans, season ticket holders mostly, in attendance, and the Checkers weren't going to turn them away.
The other option was canceling the game, but the Bridgeport Sound Tigers were already in town. The American Hockley League usually schedules two-game series to cut down on the cost of travel.
State of emergency declared in North Carolina
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for all counties in North Carolina starting Tuesday afternoon ahead of the winter storm. That allows state officials to deploy assets for storm and recovery as needed.
North Carolina troopers, transportation workers and electric utilities have been busy responding to a winter storm that dropped more snow than anticipated in some parts of the state.
Highway Patrol Commander Col. Glenn McNeill said at a weather briefing Wednesday that the patrol had responded to about 1,600 automobile collisions and 2,200 calls for service. Cooper said no one had been seriously hurt in weather-related traffic accidents but cautioned that road conditions would turn treacherous overnight and into the Thursday morning commute and encouraged people to stay at home.
“We cannot stress it enough for everyone to stay off the roads unless you have no choice,” Cooper said. “The state’s transportation workers continue to clear the primary roads and troopers and first responders are helping motorists in need. Staying off the roads allows these employees to do their jobs more safely, which in turn makes it safer for everyone else.”
Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon said crews had made good progress clearing western North Carolina roads Wednesday as the snow left the region and were turning attention to the east.
Cooper also said 30,000 homes and businesses were without power due to the weather, primarily in Charlotte and central counties.
Attorney General Josh Stein has put the price gouging law into effect that protects consumers from businesses that may charge too much during a time of crisis.
"It is against the law to charge an excessive price during a state of emergency. If you see a business taking advantage of this storm, please let my office know so we can hold them accountable," Stein said in a statement.
In Surry County, both lanes of U.S. Highway 52 were closed today for approximately four hours following a fiery tractor trailer accident and an accident that happened just a minute earlier where a tractor trailer ran off the road. Both accidents happened in the same area just south of Interstate 74. One tractor trailer had reportedly lost control as it approached the bridge over Simmons Grove Church Road. The cab of the tractor trailer moved across the concrete bridge railing catching fire and then coming to rest on the opposite side of the railing. Both tractor trailer drivers were not seriously injured. All lanes were reopened at by 2:30 p.m.
As the storm moves to the east, meteorologists expect snow totals of four to six inches across much of central North Carolina, with as much as seven to eight inches and possibly higher in some areas. Lesser amounts ranging from one to three inches are expected in the mountains, foothills and coastal plain.
Power outage numbers have been climbing with the highest number reaching about 30, 000 without power around 5 p.m. Areas with the highest number of power outages include Durham, Chatham, Lee, Orange and Mecklenburg counties. Utility companies have crews responding and working to restore power as quickly as possible.
Winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories remain in effect until Thursday morning for accumulating snow, black ice and hazardous travel. Cold temperatures are in store tonight and when paired with gusty winds, it will create wind chills in the teens to single digits. Wind chill advisories have been posted for portions of the mountains where temperatures will feel like -10 degrees Thursday morning. Wind advisories are also in effect for the Outer Banks where gusts could reach up to 45 mph. Emergency management officials urge residents to stay tuned to their local forecast and heed advice from local authorities.
NCDOT has nearly 2,000 employees with almost 1,400 trucks and graders clearing roads across the state, with assistance from more than 650 contractor trucks. Crews will work into the night. In areas where it becomes too cold to effectively plow, workers who have been in since overnight will head home to rest and other crews will come in to put more salt on the roads to get them ready to plow first thing Thursday morning when the main crews return. So far, they have placed about 12,000 tons of salt and more than 2,000 tons of a salt/sand mix on state roadways.
Snow moves into South Carolina; governor cancels speech
Snow moved into South Carolina and Gov. Henry McMaster has postponed his first State of the State address.
The National Weather Service issued winter storm warnings or winter weather advisories for most of the state on Wednesday, except for the south coast.
Forecasters said less than 1 inch of snow was expected in central South Carolina. That forecast ranged up to 6 inches of snow in the Rock Hill area. Lesser amounts were expected in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the state.
The South Carolina Department of Transportation worked feverishly to keep up with deteriorating road conditions Wednesday, paying close attention to Highway 521, a main transportation corridor in Lancaster County.
Channel 9 watched crews salting and plowing to keep up with the steady snowfall all morning, and caught up with several drivers who briefly ventured out into the snowy conditions.
Schools across Lancaster County and neighboring counties were closed Wednesday, as were many businesses.
McMaster's first State of the State address scheduled for Wednesday evening was rescheduled for Jan. 24.
The South Carolina Senate also canceled its Wednesday meeting.
Many schools and government offices were closed or delayed in western and central South Carolina.
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