A warm up on Thursday helped as Triangle residents tried to dig out from Wednesday’s double-digit snowfall. But wet roads and sidewalks combined with falling overnight temperatures could make getting out Friday morning treacherous.
Police urged motorists to stay put until temperatures warm up Friday.
As a precaution, all area schools will remain closed again Friday. That includes Durham Public Schools, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and all public schools in Granville, Orange, Chatham and Person counties.
Duke University extended its severe weather plan through 10 a.m. Friday. No classes will be held until 10 a.m, after which time the university will resume its normal operations.
A traffic accident on Interstate 85 near Hillsborough Thursday drove home the point about the danger of driving. All lanes of I-85 North were closed between Hillsborough and Durham Thursday just after Exit 165 due to a crash, the N.C. Department of Transportation reported. The road reopened in the afternoon.
Many residents of Durham and Orange counties were coping with power outages. About 400 customers in Orange County and another 1,400 in Durham were without electricity Thursday morning, said Meredith Archie, spokeswoman for Duke Energy. Duke Energy expected to restore power by the end of the day Thursday, Archie said.
The company was getting reports of some power lines down because of the heavy, wet snow.
“We have seen a lot of that, especially in Durham and Orange counties, where the accumulation was highest,” she said.
Gov. Roy Cooper warned that Thursday afternoon’s slight thaw — temperatures rose into the mid-30s — could create road hazards overnight when temperatures are expected to fall into the low 20s to high teens again.
“We will feel this extraordinary storm’s impact for days,” Cooper said. “I’ve said it before, but I can’t say it enough: the snow is beautiful, but driving in it can be treacherous. Don’t drive unless you absolutely must.”
The National Weather Service forecast a low of 17 for overnight tonight into Friday morning, and in a Tweet, Chapel Hill police warned drivers to look out for black ice Friday morning. Temperatures will begin warming up Friday, with highs forecast at 49 Friday, 55 Saturday, and 59 Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.
Most city of Durham offices, including City Hall and all non-emergency operations, were closed Thursday. Recycling and trash collections will resume Friday, road conditions permitting.
The city announced Thursday night that most of its offices, including City Hall and all non-emergency City departments, will have a delayed opening on Friday, Jan. 19 at 10 a.m.
Durham County government also closed most of its offices Thursday and canceled recycling pickup for the day. All non-essential county government offices will operate on a delayed schedule Friday, opening at 11 a.m.
With Durham City Hall closed on Thursday, the Durham City Council work session was canceled and rescheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23.
Chapel Hill town government announced that public-facing town facilities were closed Thursday. The town is focusing its efforts on storm cleanup.
“It seems like the world is moving in slow motion when you're snowed in,” said Chapel Hill emergency management coordinator Barry McLamb. “We want to thank you for your patience while we clean up from a near-record-setting snowfall. Slightly warmer temperatures and the sun will do a lot to help us in this effort.”
Chapel Hill public works crews were putting their efforts into clearing town-maintained primary streets, bridges and overpasses. They were using nine snowplows to tackle those area as well as trouble spots like hills.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation was focusing on the five high-traffic state-maintained roads through Chapel Hill: Franklin Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard/Columbia Street, Fordham Boulevard, Manning Drive, and South Road/NC Highway 54.
GoTriangle canceled its Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit design workshop scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Chapel Hill Public Library.
A Tweet from the Chapel Hill Police Department stated that few cars were on the roads Wednesday night into Thursday morning, and that no crashes were reported. There were some cars that slid off the roads and officers responded, the Tweet stated. The town Tweeted that trash collection was canceled Thursday as crews worked to clear roads.
Hillsborough officials reported that public works crews had plowed all town-maintained streets, but streets remained covered with snow and ice. Town offices were expected to open at 1 p.m. Thursday but openings may have been affected by employees’ ability to get to work.
A Hillsborough Planning Board meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 18 was canceled.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office responded to 28 vehicle accidents and helped about 40 stranded drivers between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. Wednesday, according to spokeswoman Tamara Gibbs. The Sheriff's Office responded to at least two accidents Thursday morning, Gibbs said. The department also conducted welfare checks on the elderly, the sick and shut-ins.