North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency late Wednesday afternoon for all eastern and several central North Carolina counties. A mix of freezing rain and sleet was already falling in the Cape Fear region, and the message from the Governor’s office as well as New Hanover County’s Director for Emergency Management, Steven Still, was the same.
Stay off the roads.
The National Weather Service hit the nail on the head with its prediction of a 3 PM start time for precipitation, said Still. By 4:30, Wilmington officials had shut down Martin Luther King Parkway after responding to three accidents within the hour – a result of the hazardous road conditions.
"Any unnecessary travel – if it can be postponed until later in the week – that’s what we’re encouraging. If you absolutely have to get on the road, please allow yourself extra driving time. Driving on ice is much different from snow. It truly doesn’t matter if you have four wheels or six wheels. If you try to come to a stop, you could potentially slide. So allow yourself a longer driving time so you can drive at a slower speed. Increase that following distance so you’re not following the car in front of you so closely and just be as careful as absolutely possible."
But, said Still, widespread power outages are unlikely.
"Luckily, we’re not going to see a lot of ice with this one. And usually if we have ice and high winds, that equates to power outages. We’re not supposed to see really damaging winds and a lot of ice accumulation. When we look at quarter-inch or half-inch mark, we start seeing significant outages due to ice on lines and ice on trees. But since the ice in this storm is really in the hundredths and tenths of an inch, we shouldn’t really see that accumulation, and added to the fact that we’re not supposed to experience much wind with this event, we should have reduced power outages, but we’re not going to rule out any power outages. We may see some."
It’s a good time to just enjoy the snow day, said Still. And while he said he hopes most roads are drivable by sometime Thursday, there are no guarantees considering temperatures won’t spend much time above freezing until Monday.
An abbreviated list of closings for Thursday, January 4, 2018 is below. Please check with your school, office, or business before venturing out on Thursday.
Closed Thursday, January 4th:
Cape Fear Community College
Brunswick County Schools
Brunswick County Offices
Brunswick County Courthouse
Brunswick County Landfill and Parks
Friends School of Wilmington
New Hanover County Schools
UNCW -- check with specific departments