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Snow Causes Flight Delays; Icy Roads Possible Monday

The Charlotte Observer

The first measurable March snowfall in eight years left about 2 inches of snow in the Charlotte area before tapering off around 10:30 a.m.

The snow marks the beginning of a period of wintry weather that could prove to be damaging for the region’s agricultural interests. While the temperatures are expected to warm into the 40s and the sun may come out by mid-afternoon, cold overnight could cause problems with spotty black ice by Monday morning, according to the National Weather Service.

By 9:30 a..m., the FAA had issued a ground stop at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport while planes were being de-iced. Passengers are advised to call airlines for flight updates. A check of the flight status website showed flights delayed or canceled through the afternoon. The winter storm is moving up the East Coast and is expected to cause widespread travel problems in the northeast.

With ground temperatures relatively warm following weeks of mild weather, roads and sidewalks in the Charlotte area were wet but clear, with the few cars out moving steadily. But snow was accumulating from Hickory and Statesville south into York and Lancaster counties of South Carolina.

In the uptown area, snow fell steadily and often heavily until about 10:20 a.m., with about 1 1/2 to 2 inches building up on yards, bushes and cars. Roads were wet but clear and while traffic was light, the few cars out were moving easily on Providence Road onto Morehead and on I-277 around the center city. Power outages were spotty, with about 2,000 people without power, mostly close to uptown.

Most stations near Charlotte reported temperatures around freezing at daybreak. Highway officials in both Carolinas reported major roads were wet in the Piedmont. Some slippery spots were reported in higher elevations of Cleveland, Burke and Catawba counties. Asheville got 4 to 5 inches of snow.

What’s up for Monday? Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools haven’t issued announcements yet on whether schools will open in the morning. But while most of the snow is expected to melt when the sun comes out Sunday afternoon, another weather system is moving in from the south, bringing a possible wintry mix to some areas.

Charlotte should mostly see rain, according to the National Weather Service. However, road conditions may be icy in the morning. Although most roads should dry by nightfall, temperatures are expected to fall to below freezing around midnight and stay there until Monday afternoon. Any wet roads that don’t dry by nightfall could have spotty black ice.

More ice also could be a matter of timing, according to the weather service: Temperatures may stay below freezing until Monday afternoon. So if rain moves in before it warms into the 40s, that could bring more issues with ice. A weather service spokesman said Charlotte can expect “a raw, wet day.”

American Airlines passengers traveling to, through and from Charlotte Douglas and other Carolinas airports this weekend may be able to change their trip with no change fee due to the wintry weather.

Delta is offering full refundsto travelers who wish to cancel their trips due to flight cancellations or 90-minute or more delays to any of 30 cities in the Northeast and Canada.

Unusually cold weather will persist throughout the week, according to the weather service.

Kathleen Purvis: 704-358-5236, @kathleenpurvis