Durham school, road maintenance officials watching the weather

Jan. 27, 2014 @ 12:19 PM

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous weather advisory for an area including Durham and Orange counties as an arctic cold front is expected to move across central North Carolina in the afternoon Monday, bringing cold air with it.

Temperatures were expected to start dropping Monday evening after dark, falling to about 20 degrees Tuesday morning in the Durham area, said meteorologist Jonathan Blaes with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. The advisory warned of wind chill values of around 5 to 10 degrees above zero overnight.

During the day Tuesday, Blaes said temperatures are expected to reach a high of 30, with precipitation starting in the afternoon. The amount of accumulation in the Durham is the “million dollar question” Blaes said, as it’s on the back “edge” of heavier snowfall expected further east.

“The most likely scenario for Durham is 1 to 2 inches; there could be potential for a little more than that,” Blaes said, with some lingering snow showers or flurries overnight Tuesday, tapering off in the morning Wednesday.

It will still be cold Wednesday morning, he said, with temperatures in the lower 20s. Wind chill values will be around 5 degrees above zero in the morning.

“So folks planning on traveling Wednesday morning, especially from Durham east, will likely experience problems and issues,” Blaes said.

William “Chip” Sudderth, director of public information for Durham Public Schools, said Monday morning that school officials were looking to get a better sense of the weather forecast.

“We monitor the weather forecast constantly, and we go out and assess the state of the roads, and we make the call as soon as we feel like we have enough information, and that’s not the case yet,” Sudderth said Monday morning.  “The weather forecast that we’ve seen today has varied from source to source.”

Marvin Williams, Durham’s public works director, said that as of noon Monday, department officials were monitoring the weather to see if they would need to prepare city roadways.

“It doesn’t look like we’re going to actually see any snow accumulation based on the most recent forecast that just came out a few minutes ago,” he said, adding that he planned to check in again in the afternoon to see if crews would be needed to maintain bridge or emergency routes.