Durham enveloped by snowfall, frigid temperatures

Jan. 21, 2014 @ 08:33 PM

An arctic front swept into the city early Tuesday evening, bringing a temperature plunge and snowflakes with it.

Road crews prepared for overnight reports of black ice on main thoroughfares, and towns about a half-hour north of Durham already reported receiving an inch of snow.

Temperatures hit the freezing mark about 8 p.m., with flurries arriving in Triangle around 6:30 p.m., said meteorologist Ryan Ellis with the National Weather Service in Raleigh. The heaviest snowfall was expected to impact northeast North Carolina, including Roanoke Rapids and other communities near the Virginia border.

Durham was expected to hit a low of 16 degrees overnight, Ellis said. The last time the area experienced such temperatures was Jan. 6 – 8.

The National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory for both Durham and Chapel Hill Tuesday, to last through 9 a.m. Wednesday, that stated there is potential for snow, about a half-inch to an inch of accumulation in the Triangle, and black ice.

The average amount of snowfall per year for Raleigh-Durham is 7 inches.

N.C. Department of Transportation spokesman Steve Abbott said the DOT Durham office spread brine, a mixture of salt and water, on bridges and overpasses that would freeze first, as well as busy routes such as Interstate 40, Interstate 85, U.S. 15-501 and the Durham Freeway.

Orange County did not spread brine, but both counties had crews on standby with salt and sand in their trucks to treat icy spots, Abbott said.

“The goal is to have the main roads clear by rush hour (Wednesday) morning,” he added.

Durham and Orange County residents can use N.C. DOT’s Travel Information Management System online at tims.ncdot.gov/tims to track adverse weather conditions on the road Wednesday morning.

About 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, after snowflakes began to fall, the State Highway Patrol hadn’t received any reports of accidents in Durham and Orange counties. The Durham County Sheriff’s Office also had no calls relating to the weather.

Durham Public Schools announced they are operating on a two-hour delay Wednesday.

So to are Orange County schools, to include Chapel Hill-Carrboro city schools. If school schedules need to be adjusted further, an announcement will be made by 6:30 a.m.

Outside Whole Foods Market along Broad Street Tuesday, Shan DeBerry, her son, 6-year-old Reginald, and her mother, Hattie Armstrong, walked their groceries to the car.

“The kids are hoping school will be delayed a few hours,” DeBerry said.

When asked if he’d rather play in the snow than go to school, Reginald shook his head “yes.”

Across the parking lot, Lorraine Hall, who grew up in Long Island, lifted a bag of charcoal into the trunk of her car, as her 19-month-old son sat in the front of the grocery cart.

“I’m playing it pretty cool here,” Hall said, having grown up in an area where snow is common. “We’re actually having a barbecue.”