State police have responded to more than 2,300 crashes statewide in the past two days, after a winter storm dumped snow across most of the state. In a press conference Thursday morning, Governor Roy Cooper urged drivers to stay off the roads.
"Bitter temperatures overnight mean solid ice in the morning," Cooper said. "We have seen, and unfortunately will continue to see, an alarming increase in crashes. We saw those crashes this morning and unless you stay off the road, there will be more of them."
Two storm related deaths were reported. A driver and passenger died after their car skidded off the road in Washington County.
Col. Glenn McNeill of the State Highway Patrol said troopers have responded to 3,526 calls for help, including 2,324 collisions related to the storm.
"Some of those involved in collisions and calls needing assistance did not have to be on our roadways, putting themselves and emergency responders in harm's way. As we have continuously stated, travel should be avoided unless absolutely necessary," McNeill said.
The governor said more than 9,000 customers were without power Thursday morning, most in central North Carolina. About half were in Chatham County, with other major outages in Durham, Lee and Wake Counties.
DOT Secretary Jim Trogdon said crews have cleared most interstates in western North Carolina, the Fayetteville area and near the coast. They're still working on highways around the Triad and Triangle. Trogdon says most secondary roads around the state remain covered with snow.
Temperatures were expected to get above freezing today. A high of 38 is forecast in the Charlotte area. But they'll fall to 22 again Thursday night, which means melted ice will re-freeze. Friday should be warm, with a high around 50.