Gov. Roy Cooper and other state officials advised residents Friday morning “to not let their guard down, as the worst part of this winter storm is still to come later today and tomorrow.”
Even though most of the state had a break in precipitation Friday morning, snow, sleet and freezing rain are forecast to resume later Friday and continue through Friday night, the state said.
“Roads will become more dangerous and power outages are still expected tonight in southeastern counties,” Cooper said in a statement. “If you can, stay put and off the roads as that’s the best way to stay safe.”
National Weather Service’s Morehead City/Newport office in an email briefing Friday morning also warned residents to stay alert.
“Please don’t let down your guard. The heavy snow, sleet, and freezing rain is still on the way, and will become widespread later today and especially as we head through the evening hours tonight,” the email said.
For the area covered by the Morehead City office, which includes the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast, significant icing is expected. Around a quarter- to a half-inch of ice will likely produce power outages. The highest ice accumulations will likely be in Onslow, Jones, South Craven, Pamlico and Western Carteret counties, where power outages also may occur.
There could be 1 to 4 inches of combined snow and sleet for eastern North Carolina
except Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. There could be 6 inches or more north of U.S. 64. Precipitation is expected to end Saturday morning.
Travel will be hazardous to nearly impossible at times due to significant icing, sleet and snow. Temperatures are expected to be well below freezing Friday night and there could be lingering impacts through the weekend due to very cold temperatures at night.
Wind Gusts of 20 to 30 miles per hour may add to potential tree and power issues where there is ice. The strongest winds are expected near the Outer Banks.
Through Saturday morning there could be soundside and oceanside coastal flooding of 1 to 2 feet above ground level in the Outer Banks.
The National Weather Service’s Wilmington office calls for snow and sleet accumulations to be 1 to 3 inches in southeastern North Carolina. Significant ice accumulations of up to a half-inch are possible across this area as well. Wind gusts up to 20 or 25 miles per hour are expected. Conditions will worsen through Friday afternoon as areas of light freezing rain expand from south to north.
The State Highway Patrol advises significantly reducing speed and increasing following distance if you must travel. Clear ice and snow from vehicles and keep winter emergency supplies in your vehicle like a window scraper, jumper cables, blanket and a shovel. An immediate towing policy is in effect for vehicles left empty on North Carolina’s highways during this storm.
More than 110 National Guard troops with more than 40 high-clearance vehicles are staged at locations in eastern counties, prepared to assist where needed with transportation issues and debris clearance. Utility companies have crews ready to respond to the expected power outages, with power restoration efforts after last weekend’s storm complete, according to Cooper’s office.
Cooper signed a state of emergency on Wednesday ahead of the winter storm, to mobilize state resources and allow for the possibility of federal reimbursement for storm response expenses. The declaration also bans price gouging during this state of emergency. Complaints can be filed with the NC Attorney General’s office.
To keep safe during winter weather, North Carolina Emergency Management advises residents and visitors to follow these tips:
- Keep cell phones, mobile devices and spare batteries charged in case your power goes out.
- Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.
- Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.
- Properly vent kerosene heaters and ensure generators are operated outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Never burn charcoal indoors or use a gas grill indoors.
- Use battery-powered sources for light, instead of candles, if your power goes out.
- Use a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio or a weather alert app on your phone to receive emergency weather alerts.
- Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first-aid kit and road map.
- Gather emergency supplies for your pet including leash and feeding supplies, enough food for several days and a pet travel carrier.
- Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time during freezing weather.
- Look out for your friends, neighbors and the elderly during winter weather and power outages.