Hazardous weather outlook prompts delays, cancellations

Jan. 22, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

Numerous area schools were delayed this morning, and other cancellations and closures were reported, in anticipation of severe winter weather that was expected to hit late Tuesday. 

Mike Strickler, Raleigh-based National Weather Service meteorologist, said the forecast called for showers that began mid-afternoon Tuesday to turn into snow by early evening and end by midnight.

He said Lee County could see up to an inch of snow by this morning — closer to two inches the nearer someone lives to Raleigh and less than an inch the farther south they live.

The Raleigh-based National Weather Service office issued a Winter Weather Advisory starting at 4 p.m. Tuesday and continuing to 9 a.m. this morning. In addition to "light snow accumulations," the NWS was also calling for patches of black ice.

The potentially dangerous conditions caused Lee and Moore county schools, as well as Fort Bragg, Wake County, Durham, Nash-Rocky Mount, Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Cumberland County and Wayne County schools, to enact a two-hour delay this morning. School was already not in session for Chatham students, but today was made an optional teacher work day with a two-hour delay. Harnett Schools also made today an optional teacher work day, with all workshops set to be rescheduled.

In addition, a basketball game between Lee County and Southern Lee high schools scheduled for Tuesday night was postponed to Thursday, Feb. 6, and Central Carolina Community College closed at 6 p.m. Tuesday, canceling all evening classes and activities. Harnett County government offices also are operating on a two-hour delay today.

Snow aside, Strickler said, “the bigger story is the extreme and prolonged cold that will follow this system into the week,”

With a blustery, northwesterly wind, temperatures were expected to drop into the teens Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, reaching single digits with the added wind chill, he said. Temperatures could rise to the upper 20s and possibly freezing before falling back into the teens tonight.

“Thursday will get into the 40s, and that is going to be the nicest day this week,” Strickler said. “We are expecting another arctic blast late Thursday night that will be colder than the first round with single digits and teens for lows Thursday night and a wind chill possibly below zero. It's quite possible, especially across the Piedmont, to have subzero wind chills.”

Friday, he said, should be in its 20s for most the day.

Duke Energy Progress customers can report a power outage by calling (800) 419-6356 and a Central Electric Membership Corporation can report an outage by calling (877) 776-6769.

The suppliers offer the following winter energy-saving tips:

* Select the lowest comfortable thermostat setting when home and bump the thermostat down a few degrees when leaving home.

* Regularly check home’s HVAC.

* Leave drapes or blinds open when you're home to allow the sun to naturally heat the residence.

* Change air filters regularly for efficient heating.

* Replace standard bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs.

* Use extra blankets, layer clothing or drink hot beverages.

* In the event of a power loss, turn off all appliances that were running during the outage. It will help electricity to come back on faster.