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Winter storm kills power to more than 300,000 in Carolinas. But it could have been worse.

NC governor warns of ‘days of impact’ from major winter storm

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warns of the threat of major power outages and hazardous roads due to a severe winter storm moving into NC Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.
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North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warns of the threat of major power outages and hazardous roads due to a severe winter storm moving into NC Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018.

The numbers weren’t as bad as Duke Energy predicted they might be, unless you were one of the unlucky ones.

The utility, which had said up to 500,000 customers could lose power, reported 240,110 customers in the Carolinas without service late Sunday afternoon, down slightly from earlier in the day.

Another 28,775 electric co-op customers in the state were without power, the NC Electric Cooperatives reported.

Customers of the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina were also without electricity, as that utility reported 10,361 outages.

Most of the outages in North Carolina were in Buncombe, Henderson and Rutherford counties. In South Carolina, most of the outages were in Greenville and Spartanburg counties.

“More than six inches of snow or a quarter of an inch of ice accumulation will cause branches to sag and trees to fall, bringing power lines down with them,” Duke Energy had said in a release Friday. “Additionally, hazardous road conditions can result in vehicle accidents which further increase the risk for power outages as cars hit power poles and other electrical infrastructure.”

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper warns of the many dangers after a major winter storm dumped several inches of snow and ice in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and surrounding areas Sunday, Dec. 8, 2018. (Dashcam mounted camera)

As of Sunday morning, at least 6 inches of snow had fallen in Durham County and more than 4 inches had fallen in Raleigh, according to the National Weather Service and Durham County Sheriff’s Office.

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A Duke Energy crew works to restore power on Rumson Road in Raleigh as snow continues to fall Sunday morning, Dec. 9, 2018. TRAVIS LONG tlong@newsobserver.com@newsobser

Duke usually needs up to 24 hours to assess damage from major weather events, “even while simultaneously restoring power,” according to the release. But winter storms make travel difficult, and could cause further delays.

“Widespread, multiple-day power outages are expected for the Mountains, Foothills, Piedmont, Triad and Triangle areas of North Carolina and portions of Upstate South Carolina and customers should be prepared,” according to Duke.

The utility had “more than 8,700 line and tree workers, damage assessors and support personnel ready to respond” on Sunday.

If you do lose power, to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, “never use a gas-powered generator or other fuel-burning appliance indoors or in the garage,” the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services warned in a news release Friday. “Never use charcoal grills or propane stoves indoors, even in a fireplace. Never use a gas oven to heat a home, even for a short amount of time.”

To report Duke Power outages:

Text OUT to 57801

▪ Call 800-419-6356

▪ Go to www.dukeenergyupdates.com.

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