Southeastern North Carolina preps for a freezing, icy evening
The ice storm's initial wave was pushed offshore, but experts say a second wave will bring sub-freezing temperatures, icy roads, and possible power outages.
Preparations across the region
Salt spreader trucks crisscrossed coastal roads as courthouses and schools closed today to prepare for a snow and ice storm expected to hit parts of the Carolinas and Virginia unaccustomed to winter precipitation.
Authorities along a stretch of the North and South Carolina coast warned that ice accumulation could cause major power outages, while areas northeast of there stretching into Virginia could see several inches of snow.
School districts in the pathway canceled class or went to remote learning, while two large coastal military bases modified operations. Fifty-seven courthouses from the central part of North Carolina to the coast closed for modified operations due to the forecast.
Wilmington weather will make travel dangerous
As of Friday afternoon, freezing temperatures have begun to spread into the area. According to the National Weather Service Wilmington, icy precipitation started this afternoon and will continue into this evening. This will start as freezing rain before transitioning to sleet and/or snow. Up to three inches of snow could accumulate in the northwestern parts of the Cape Fear region — less than an inch is expected in the Wilmington area.
Ice accumulation could reach a quarter-inch, with heavier accumulation in the northern part of the region; that's still enough to down branches and make roads impassable.
Ultimately, the impacts will increase through tonight, especially freezing roads — starting with bridges, overpasses, and elevated roadways.
Travel is becoming increasingly dangerous, and officials are calling travel 'dangerous' at this time.
Downed trees and limbs and power outages are also expected. Temperatures especially tomorrow night and Sunday night will be dangerously cold.
The State Highway Patrol said that those who absolutely must travel should reduce their speed and allow significantly more space between themselves and other vehicles.
Officials say 'stay warm, safely'
With ice storm conditions likely to stick around through tomorrow, power outages around the region are likely. New Hanover County Emergency Management Director Steven Still reminds residents to stay home, if possible, and stay safe when it comes to staying warm.
“You know, we've certainly had issues in the past where people using combustible materials using grills indoor and that's something that we urge our residents not to do. If you're going to keep yourself warm during this short period of power outages, make sure that you can do it safely," Still said.
At the current time, county officials are not planning on standing up community shelters, but are taking others measures.
"New Hanover County Emergency Management has worked with community partners to help provide supplies to warming shelters in the county and continues to support our homeless agencies in their efforts as well. Emergency Management will also work with our public safety partners to provide assistance for any resident in need of assistance or a warm shelter, but the county does not plan to stand up community shelters at this time," according to a county spokesperson.
Meanwhile, Duke Energy says it has thousands of line workers staged around the state, including in Wilmington, to deal with outages as soon as weather conditions allow.
And if you live in a Duke service area and are experiencing a power outage, you can text "OUT" to 57801.