Eastern North Carolina could experience power outages and dangerous travel conditions this weekend due to what the National Weather Service’s Morehead City office staff are calling a “significant multi-hazard winter storm.”
Snow and sleet are forecast for eastern North Carolina except Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island late Thursday evening to Saturday morning. Most areas will have 1 to 4 inches of combined snow and sleet. North of U.S. 64 could see 6 inches. The best chance for snow Friday afternoon into early Saturday morning.
Officials also said travel conditions will be hazardous to nearly impossible at times due to significant icing, sleet, and snow for eastern North Carolina except Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island. Roads will likely be treacherous through Sunday morning due to subfreezing temperatures.
“There’s still some question marks always with a forecast but if the current forecast holds, if we realize the amount of ice we’re forecasting and have continued to forecast, this is something we haven’t seen in our area before,” Erik Heden, warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Morehead City office, said during the 4:30 p.m. Thursday briefing. “We get snow and ice but this is something we haven’t seen before in our area, so please keep that in mind. Again, very significant ice potential.”
Highest ice accumulations are expected for Onslow, Jones, south Craven, Pamlico and western Carteret counties late Thursday night through Saturday morning. Impacts may last into early Sunday due to subfreezing temperatures. Widespread power outages begin when about a quarter-inch of ice accumulates on power lines.
Weather officials said there are minor soundside coastal flooding concerns for southern Hatteras Island, Ocracoke Island, soundside southern Craven County, and soundside Eastern Carteret County and minor oceanside coastal flooding concerns for northern Outer Banks.
The Wilmington Weather Service officials predict rain to begin Thursday afternoon and evening as the cold front moves across the area from west to east. The transition to freezing rain is expected Friday morning for most areas, but not until the afternoon across far southern portions of southeastern North Carolina. A mix of wintry weather, including sleet, is expected Thursday afternoon, then a transition to some snow is expected Friday night into Saturday morning. The precipitation is expected to end on Saturday morning.
Beaufort, Bertie, Hyde, Onslow, Pender and Washington county government offices will be closed Friday. Brunswick and New Hanover government offices, parks, and libraries will be closed Friday and Saturday.
Gov. Roy Cooper has signed a state of emergency in advance of this second winter storm to move through the state in a week.
“This state of emergency will waive some transportation regulations to allow for quicker storm preparation and response and power restoration,” Cooper said. “North Carolinians should prepare today for this storm and make sure they have any medications, food and emergency equipment they may need over the next few days.”
Providing a separate emergency declaration, documentation and expense tracking are important when seeking federal reimbursement for two different storm events.
While last weekend’s storm brought the most significant impacts to western and central counties, this new storm is expected to bring several inches of snowfall from the Triangle northeast toward the coast, and up to a half-inch of ice accumulation to southeastern counties.
To prepare for this storm and possible power outages, North Carolina Emergency Management advises people to do the following:
- Get the groceries and essentials you need before Thursday evening. Travel will become hazardous in many parts of eastern North Carolina after that.
- 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 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 and for several days and pet travel carrier.
- Do not leave pets outside for long periods of time during freezing weather.