A winter storm moves through the Carolinas bringing sleet, snow and power outages
Updated 7:33 p.m.
Power outages increased as a winter storm moved across the Carolinas with ice, snow and sleet. More than 62,000 outages have been reported across North Carolina and South Carolina at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Duke Energy spokesperson Randy Wheeless said there were only a handful of outages in the Charlotte area during the initial wave of the storm.
"We know that as we get more snow and ice during the day it could accumulate on trees, accumulate on power lines, so we could be looking at a lot of outages later in the day right now when I look at the numbers we're looking very very good," Wheeless said.
Duke Energy says it has more than 10,000 repair workers on hand to address the outages as they happen, but residents should still anticipate some outages possibly taking days to repair.
WCNC-TV’s chief meteorologist, Brad Panovich, says most of the sleet and snow will move out of the region by Monday. But roads, sidewalks and steps will be icy and slick as temperatures remain below freezing for much of the day. He says the ice will start melting Monday afternoon when temperatures rise.
“The problem is we’re not going to melt everything during the day, which means we get another refreeze Monday night into Tuesday morning," Panovich said. "So it could be another rough travel morning into Tuesday morning.”
Fewer people on the road means fewer car crashes, plus it allows highway crews and utility workers to get faster results. If you must travel, reduce your speed, increase your following distance and be sure to clear all the snow and ice off your vehicle before traveling.— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) January 16, 2022
By noon Sunday, between 8 and 12 inches of snow had fallen in some counties of North Carolina, while significant icing was causing problems in the central part of the state.
Kristen Baker Morrow’s 6-year-old son made snow angels after their home in Crouse, North Carolina, got 4 inches of snow Sunday morning, but she said they couldn’t stay outside long because of the uncomfortable wind chill.
“It took 30 to 45 minutes to get everything on for about 10 minutes in the snow, but it was definitely worth it for him, to get our pictures and make some memories,” said Morrow, a 35-year-old registered nurse.
Col. Freddy Johnson Jr., commander of the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by late morning, the agency had responded to 200 car crashes and 460 calls for service. Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette said many roads in the central and western part of the state were covered with ice. He said the eastern part of the state was being hit with high winds and rain.
More than 260,000 customers were without power by midafternoon Sunday, according to poweroutage.us. Especially hard hit was North Carolina, with 90,000 outages. The remaining outages were in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
Ice is expected to be the biggest concern in the Charlotte area Sunday. The National Weather Service is projecting ice accumulation of a quarter to a half-inch of ice. That is enough to make driving on the roads particularly difficult. And the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is urging residents to stay home and avoid the roads if they can. The police department says that will help keep the roads clear for service crews and first responders. And the city is asking people to call 311 to report any downed trees, water main breaks or malfunctioning traffic signals.
The Weather Service says the snow and sleet will turn to more rain Sunday evening, likely freezing over as temperatures stay in the low 30s overnight. Black ice is expected to be a concern Sunday night and Monday.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is encouraging people to stay home and off the roads if they can.