Forecast models for Wednesday’s snow storm are coming up well short of true totals and schools will be out another day Thursday.
As much as eight to 10 inches of snow — and possibly even more in the Rougemont and Roxboro areas — blanketed The Herald-Sun readership area Wednesday, creating hazardous driving conditions and closing schools and government offices. Below-freezing temperatures overnight were expected with lows in the mid-teens by this morning and likely will not allow driving conditions to improve until later in the day today when temperatures climb back above freezing.
As of 7 p.m., 9.4 inches of snow was being reported in northern Durham County and a day’s record of 5 inches was reported at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, topping the day’s all-time mark of 4 inches recorded in 1946, according to WTVD.com.
It prompted all area school systems to cancel classes for Thursday.
Orange County Schools were the first in the area to announce classes were canceled. Person County Schools and Granville County Schools followed shortly thereafter with Durham Public Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools and Chatham County Schools the last to announce.
Duke University also announced that it was extending its severe weather plan until 7 p.m. Thursday, meaning all campus classes are canceled as well. N.C. Central implemented its severe weather policy and canceled campus activities until 6 p.m. At UNC-Chapel Hill, campus activitie are suspended until noon Thursday.
Wednesday’s snowfall was expected to move away from the region late Wednesday, leaving behind still hazardous road conditions and wind chills into early Thursday before a weekend warming trend begins.
Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews urged residents to stay off the roads.
“We’re continuting to see road conditions deteriorate,” Andrews said. “Please stay off the roads so our DOT folks can try to clear the roads. The worst conditions are in town. All the city roads are covered. They’re trying to spread sand and salt but with the amount that is falling, it’s a futile effort now.”
Chatham County manager Renee Paschal announced that county offices and facilities, other than essential services, will be closed again Thursday. The closure includes parks, libraries and waste and collection centers. Senior centers also will be closed, except the Eastern Senior Center in Pittsboro, which is currently serving as a temporary shelter for residents who may be out of power and have no heat.
Chatham County Clerk of Superior Court Sam Cooper reported that all court sessions and offices will be closed as well. For updates on dates and times of required filings, call 919-357-6766.
In Chatham County where weather-related power outages were reported in some areas of the county, Chatham County will open a shelter in Pittsboro for residents who need a warm place to stay Wednesday night. The Chatham County Council on Aging’s Eastern Senior Center in Pittsboro will open at 5 p.m. to receive people. The center is located at 365 NC 87, Pittsboro, just north of the roundabout.
People who wish to use the shelter are encouraged to call 919-545-8164 in advance to let staff know you are coming. If you come, please bring food, water, medications, toiletries and other important personal items. Pets are not allowed at this shelter.
For Thursday, the National Weather Service is forecasting clear skies, but wind chills as low as 6 into the morning. Thursday’s high for Durham is expected to reach 39.
After Thursday’s chill, the weather in the Triangle will warm considerably, according to the Weather Service. As high pressure over the South moves east, a westerly to southwesterly flow will develop across the middle of the nation allowing for a significant warm-up.
The Friday forecast for the Triangle is sunny with a high of 52, and a low of 25. Temperatures for Saturday and Sunday are forecast in the mid- to upper-50s, with sunny skies.
The National Weather Service predicted much of the Triangle woutd get 4 to 6 inches of snow today, with Durham and points west could see 5 to 7 inches, with 8 inches of snow possible in some locations Wednesday.
The storm front arrived later than expected, reaching the western side of the Triangle about the time it was once projected to reach the eastern side.
The weather service in Raleigh has issued a winter storm warning for all of central North Carolina and extended it until 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Here’s what to expect now:
▪ Snow should fall over most of the Triangle for the rest of the afternoon and into the evening.
▪ The snow will intensify at times. The heaviest snow in the Triangle is expected through about 4 p.m. Snowfall rates of half an inch to an inch per hour will be possible.
▪ Occasional but brief bursts of even heavier snow may occur, making road conditions dangerous very quickly. “Road conditions could go from being fine one minute, to treacherous the next minute,” the weather service said.
▪ It will get colder as the day goes on. Forecasters predict readings of 26 to 28 degrees throughout the region by 5 p.m. Wednesday. Lows overnight are expected to be in the teens, with wind chill readings approaching single digits across central North Carolina. Thursday’s high is predicted to be only in the mid-30s.
Gov. Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency for all of North Carolina to allow for deployment of resources for storm response. The state also activated its Emergency Operations Center on Wednesday morning.
The latest road conditions can be found at drivenc.gov.
Durham police reported accidents throughout the city due to the weather, but no serious injuries, according to Police Department spokesperson Kammie Michael. Durham police responded to 54 weather-related accidents as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
The Patrol Unit of the Durham County Sheriff's Office responded to at least nine vehicle collisions, some with personal injuries, during Wednesday’s storm, said Tamara Gibbs, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman. Deputies have assisted at least two stranded motorists, Gibbs said. Road conditions were deteriorating fastest in the northern and eastern parts of the county, according to a Facebook post from the Sheriff’s Office.
Chapel Hill only had one minor fender-bender reported, said Capt. Josh Mecimore. “By and large, people have stayed off the roads,” he said. Town police urged residents to stay off the roads Thursday, because the slush from Wednesday’s snow would refreeze, Memimore said.
City of Durham offices – including City Hall and all non-emergency operations – are now closed because of snow.
At this time, the city is planning to re-open at 11 a.m. on Thursday, January 18.
Durham County government offices will delay opening for business today because of the incoming winter storm. To protect the safety of employees and residents seeking government services, all non-essential offices for Durham County government will remain closed Wednesday, Jan. 17.
For updates, follow Facebook @DurhamCountyGov and Twitter@DurhamCounty.
Here are some other closings and posponements:
▪ Classes at Duke University are closed until noon because of the winter weather, the university announced today. A decision on afternoon and evening classes will be made later today. The severe weather policy is in effect as well. Only essential Service employees should report to work. For updates, visit http://emergency.duke.edu/.
▪ The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill canceled all Wednesday classes. North Carolina Central University canceled day and evening classes Wednesday.
▪ Classes at all campuses of Durham Technical Community College were are canceled Wednesday. The school will provide more information about Thursday classes by 9 p.m.
▪ Durham’s Solid Waste Management Department suspended trash and recycling collections Wednesday, Jan. 17. Regular Wednesday customers will receive their garbage and recycling collections on Friday, Jan. 19, and regular Thursday customers will receive their garbage and recycling collections on Saturday, Jan. 20. Customers are asked not to leave their carts at the curb until their rescheduled collection date to allow snow plows easier access on city streets.
▪ In Durham, yard waste and bulky item collections, along with exempt customers, will be suspended until next week to allow these crews to assist with garbage and recycling collections.
▪ Durham’s Waste Disposal and Recycling Center (Transfer Station) was closed on Wednesday. Road conditions permitting, the Center will open at 10 a.m. on Thursday. The center will not be accepting yard waste or live Christmas trees on Thursday to allow time to evaluate access to the Yard Waste Facility for possible operations.
▪ Durham’s E-Waste Recycling, Paper Shredding, and Live Christmas Tree Disposal event, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 20 at Durham County Memorial Stadium, has been canceled to allow crews to instead focus on garbage and recycling collections on Saturday. This event will be rescheduled at a later date.
Durham residents are reminded that police, fire, and rescue services for life-threatening or in-progress emergencies can be reached by calling 911. Non-emergency concerns can be directed to 919-560-4600. For information on the street clearing order, snow plowing routes, and maps visit the Public Works Department’s webpage.
For updates, visit http://DurhamNC.gov and follow @CityofDurhamNC on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Residents may also contact Durham One Call at 919-560-1200 for more information.
▪ In Hillsborough, The Town Hall Annex, which houses the Finance Department and the Water and Sewer Billing and Collections Office, were closed to the public Wednesday. Depending on weather conditions, town offices are scheduled to reopen at 1 p.m. Thursday. The opening times for other town offices may be affected by the ability of personnel to get to work. Citizens needing to conduct business with the town are encouraged to call or send an email in advance. Trash, brush, bulk items pickup and loose leaf collection will begin as soon as conditions allow trucks to operate safely. Service for garbage collection will be given priority. Hillsborough’s greenways, including Riverwalk, will not be shoveled.
▪ Chatham County has closed all non-essential county offices. This includes all the waste & recycling collection centers and libraries. The Clerk of Court Office also is closed, but expects to reopen Thursday at 11 a,m. Courts were canceled Wednesday and Thursday.
News & Observer reporters Aaron Moody, Abbie Bennett, Camila Molina and Ron Gallager contributed to this report.