Storm Prompts Icy Weather Warnings, COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment Delays
Updated 12:01 p.m. Thursday
Winter weather moved across the Carolinas on Thursday morning, but the National Weather Service canceled a winter weather advisory at 10 a.m. that had been scheduled to extend until the evening.
"Temperatures have warmed above freezing and will continue to slowly warm through the afternoon," the weather service said. "Only patchy light rain is expected to continue."
Freezing rain was expected until early afternoon with little to no ice accumulation in the Charlotte area. Areas north of Interstate 40 could see nearly half an inch of accumulation. Some parts of the mountains and foothills were under a winter storm warning.
The storm prompted Gov. Roy Cooper to declare a state of emergency and led Mecklenburg County to cancel COVID-19 vaccination appointments scheduled for Thursday.
In a news release, Cooper said North Carolina residents should prepare "for the strong possibility of power outages" due to the storm, which is likely to lead to fallen trees and power lines.
Duke Energy projects that 1 million people in North and South Carolina could lose power.
Duke Energy projects 1 million power outages in N.C. & S.C. due to an approaching winter storm. Over 5,400 workers & contractors are ready to respond. We urge customers to prepare for extended outages & make plans for elderly or those with special needs. https://t.co/x81fxGDdJb pic.twitter.com/oWVFA31YJW— Duke Energy (@DukeEnergy) February 17, 2021
According to the National Weather Service, the storm is expected to cover the western and central part of the state, with the corridor along Interstate 40 likely to be strongest hit.
State transportation officials advise avoiding unnecessary travel Thursday through western and central North Carolina because of expected icy roads and downed trees.
The Charlotte region is on the edge of anticipated ice accumulation through Thursday, with 0.01-0.25 inches of ice forecasted in the area. The low temperature Wednesday night in Charlotte hovered just above freezing — at 33 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trish Palmer with the National Weather Service said rain will likely turn to freezing rain around 5-6 a.m. Thursday, and continue through about 10 a.m.
"It is possible that we could see a glaze of ice across the Charlotte metro area," Palmer said. "The farther north you go, the higher the amount will be. So, like up in maybe the extreme northern part of Mecklenburg County, maybe up to two-tenths of an inch. Whereas in the southern part of the county, maybe just a little bit of a glaze."
WINTER STORM UPDATE 7AM (2/18): Here is the latest forecast on ice and rainfall totals across the area. Totals have trended down overall, but impacts will remain moderate to significant in the Warning Areas. Watch out for black ice tonight as temperatures dip below freezing. pic.twitter.com/GjKmGi7HfM— NWS GSP (@NWSGSP) February 18, 2021
Inclement weather throughout the country and the forecasted storm has led to shipment delays of the COVID-19 vaccine, a Mecklenburg County news release said, and forced the cancellation of Thursday's appointments along with the postponement of some additional appointments and events until shipments arrive.
Those who have appointments impacted by the storm or shipment delays will be contacted, according to the county's news release. The county says that new appointments will be "guaranteed and will be provided" for those affected.