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Local News

Winter Storm Brings Less Snow Than Expected For Charlotte

SNOW_SATURDAY_01.jpg
John D. Simmons
/
Charlotte Observer
A CATS bus waits at Mallard Creek and Prosperity Church Roads early Saturday morning.

Charlotteobserver.com

A winter storm with a split personality dumped several inches of snow across parts of North Carolina overnight but left snow-lovers disappointed in much of the Charlotte area.

Cold air that is surging into the Carolinas on Saturday morning arrived too late for the precipitation to fall as snow in many locations near and south of the Interstate 85 corridor, where the ground remains mostly bare.

But north of Charlotte, residents awoke Saturday to a winter wonderland, with a combination of sleet and snow leaving the landscape coated in white.

“I’m guessing that probably half of the residents across the area are happy with us right now, and the other half not so happy,” said Trisha Palmer, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C., early Saturday morning.

More than 4 inches was reported in Huntersville and amounts of 6 to 8 inches were common farther to the north. Forecasters said one or two more areas of precipitation will cross the area before the storm pulls away to the northeast by mid-morning.

In Charlotte and to the south, precipitation fell as a combination of rain, sleet and freezing drizzle. Drivers in uptown Charlotte had to pull over early Saturday as freezing rain coated their windshields. While the precipitation mix left winter weather enthusiasts crestfallen, it has created slippery roads across the region.

“If I can tell you anything, it would be to stay home,” Gov. Roy Cooper said at an 8:30 a.m. news conference. “Do not drive on the roads. Do so only if you absolutely have to.”

“This weather event is not over,” the governor said. “We’ve lost too many lives recently from people driving in dangerous conditions.” No storm-related deaths were confirmed overnight, although authorities were investigating a possible one in Granville County north of Durham, Cooper said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police reported about 45 collisions between 10 p.m. Friday and 5 a.m. Saturday. That is about double the normal number.

But Medic responded to far fewer wrecks than it did during the rain-slickened conditions of Dec. 27: 36 wrecks from 10 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday, compared with about 120 wrecks on Dec. 27. “So people are paying attention,” Lester Oliva of Medic said. Wrecks so far have involved only minor injuries, he said.

At 8:30 a.m., Matthews police reported that Idlewild Road was closed between Rice Road and N.C. 51 because of a downed tree. Trees are coated in ice in the area. The downed tree knocked out power to several neighborhoods in the area.

At 9:30 a.m., a wreck closed the left lane of Interstate 85 southbound near the Sugar Creek Road exit in Charlotte

Meanwhile, about 20,000 Duke Energy customers in the state were without power at noon, including about 4,650 in Mecklenburg County and 7,900 in Union County. Time Warner Cable internet and cable outages also were reported in Charlotte.