Region braces for snow
Temperatures were in the mid-60s and there were blue skies overhead, but inside the Food Lion on Chapel Hill Road on Monday afternoon, Durham resident Gail Harris was preparing for a different scenario.
An arctic cold front was expected to move into the area, bringing lower temperatures and the possibility of snowfall starting Tuesday afternoon. Harris was buying some snacks.
“I’m going to be doing absolutely nothing but sitting around munching,” she said, as she loaded up her grocery cart.
As of Monday afternoon, the National Weather Service had issued a winter storm warning that would be in effect from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday for an area of central North Carolina that included Durham and Chatham counties.
The weather service was predicting the possibility of three to five inches of snow accumulation, with the possibility of heavier amounts in some areas.
Snow was expected to fall Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning, with the heaviest snow likely between 3 p.m. Tuesday and 3 a.m. Wednesday.
Brandon Vincent, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Raleigh, said weather service officials had expanded the warning area to include Durham County on Monday. Durham was expected to be “right on the line” of where the heavier accumulation was expected to be, he said.
“You guys will be right on that line, which could shift a little bit west or east, and as a result it’s hard to put an exact figure on an exact accumulation in Durham County other than to say that the current trends suggest you should have a shot at several inches, most of it in the eastern part of the county,” Vincent said.
West of Durham County for an area including Orange County as well as the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, the National Weather Service in Raleigh issued a winter weather advisory for snow that would be in effect from noon Tuesday to noon Wednesday.
The weather service was expecting that one to two inches of snow were possible in that area, falling Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday morning, with the heaviest snow likely falling between 3 p.m. Tuesday and 3 a.m. Wednesday.
“Just to the west of (Durham County) in Orange County, we have a winter weather advisory in effect, that’s for lower (accumulation) amounts,” he said.
Vincent said the cold front was expected to move through the Raleigh-Durham area later Monday, setting the stage for temperatures in the lower to mid 20s Tuesday morning, and getting into the mid-to-upper 20s in the afternoon.
Tuesday night was expected to be “very cold,” with lows in the mid-teens, and on Wednesday, he said the high temperatures were expected to just get to freezing. If there’s snow on the ground, he said that may impact travel conditions Thursday.
“So that’ll lend itself to continued issues Wednesday night and maybe into Thursday with any melting and refreezing, and ice issues,” Vincent said.
Marvin Williams, Durham’s Public Works director, said weather predictions were inconsistent Monday, but the department was preparing for the worst. City crews were going to start salt brining operations on major routes in the city after 7 p.m. Monday, with the hope that rush hour would be over by that time.
Williams also said the N.C. Department of Transportation had already started brining major roadways such as U.S. Interstate 85 and N.C. 147.
“We have our trucks getting loaded with salt, sand, and plows have been mounted,” he said Monday evening. “We’ll be ready for whatever weather comes starting tomorrow afternoon.”
The Food Lion on Chapel Hill Road had started preparing already for the snow event the Friday before the event, said Mahmoud Ayesh, store manager. He said the store did well last Tuesday when the area saw snow.
He said the store put in an order of bread last Friday, and made sure they were stocked with milk and other items.
“The weather is weird – it doesn’t look like it’s going to snow,” he said.