Local News
12:23 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Latest News On The Winter Storm

8:30 a.m. UPDATE:

BLACK ICE STILL A PROBLEM:

It's worth repeating this warning from the National Weather Service:

"SOME ROADS ARE IMPASSABLE WHERE HEAVY SNOW FELL ON THURSDAY MORNING. ON ROADS THAT REMAIN PASSABLE...FROZEN SLUSH AND BLACK ICE WILL MAKE DRIVING VERY HAZARDOUS THIS MORNING."

Some of the ice should start thawing after 10:00 or so.

VERY FEW ABANDONED CARS LEFT:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police started towing abandoned cars at 7:00 this morning, and a city spokesperson says fewer than 10 were still out there. If you did get towed, it'll cost you $85, and you can call 311 to find out where your car is. (Oh, and it's $85 because towing companies need to make a buck. A city spokesperson said they wouldn't do it for free, but at least you're not getting towed to the more expensive lots.)

TWO RUNWAYS OPEN AT THE AIRPORT:

The Charlotte airport has reopened one of its runways, meaning two are now operational. But the percentage of flights getting canceled there today is creeping up: 13 percent of outgoing flights, and 19 percent of incoming ones now.

Check the airlines you're flying for delays or cancelations, and you can also use this for arrivals and departures.

POWER OUTAGES:

In Mecklenburg County, we're down to about 350 power outages. Count your blessings - the number of outages has actually risen in Wilmington this morning, and it's now a little over 14,000.

SNOW DAYS MEAN SHORTER SPRING BREAK:

That's what Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools are warning on the system's Facebook page. Needless to say, parents aren't happy.

VALENTINE'S DAY PLANS:

Great news – or awful news depending on what you think of the whole married-on-Valentine's-Day cliché – you can tie the knot today. The Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds will open at 10:00 this morning. That's an hour later than usual. But hey, consider it extra time to think about how long forever might last.

6:00 a.m. UPDATE:

4:30 a.m. UPDATE:

As of early Friday morning, the winter storm has moved on from the Carolinas, but it's left this behind:

"FROZEN SLUSH AND BLACK ICE WILL CREATE VERY HAZARDOUS DRIVING CONDITIONS THIS MORNING."

That's from the National Weather Service, which is keeping a winter weather advisory in effect until 10:00 a.m. That applies to the mountains and foothills of North Carolina, including the Charlotte area, and upstate South Carolina.

"SOME ROADS ARE IMPASSABLE WHERE HEAVY SNOW FELL ON THURSDAY MORNING. ON ROADS THAT REMAIN PASSABLE...FROZEN SLUSH AND BLACK ICE WILL MAKE DRIVING VERY HAZARDOUS THIS MORNING."

The temperature won't get above freezing until the later this morning.

HOMELESS IN THE STORM:

During this week’s snowstorm, officials repeated one piece of advice more than any other: stay home. But not everyone has a home. WFAE’s Ben Bradford visited a Red Cross warming center where nearly 200 people spent the night Wednesday, and then had to leave.

CHARLOTTE-MECKLENBURG POLICE:

If you had to abandon your car, it's time to go get it:

•     At 7:00 a.m., Friday, February 14, abandoned vehicles in the roadway with be removed and relocated for clearing by road crews. 

•     The tow fee is $85; however CMPD does not anticipate relocating many vehicles. Owners of removed cars may call 311 to locate their vehicles.

•     234 total accidents (213 property damage, 21 personal injury), 17 calls for disabled vehicles

CHARLOTTE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION:

Our local crews are also warning about black ice this morning. They've working through the major roads, hospital entrances, assistance for police and emergencies, and then neighborhoods and residential streets (in that order).

CHARLOTTE AREA TRANSIT SYSTEM (CATS):

Buses and light rail are back to their normal schedules this morning, although you should expect delays.

CHARLOTTE AIRPORT:

Our colleague Ben summed it up: the winter storm has not been kind to air travelers. About 1,000 people stayed in the terminal at the Charlotte airport overnight, according to the airport's last update. One runway was open, and crews were working to open another one.

Here's a website you can use to check on arrivals and departures.

POWER OUTAGES:

Mecklenburg County is down to 411 power outages. That's the most in the piedmont region, but it's down substantially from Thursday. Outages remain a bigger but shrinking problem in the eastern half of the Carolinas, especially in counties near the coast.

5:00 p.m. UPDATE:

Temperatures rose to 41 degrees in Charlotte today.  And the snow has stopped.  And the snow is turning to slush.  But the low tonight is expected to be in the mid 20’s which means that can all freeze overnight.  And the effects of the winter storm are obviously not in our rear view mirror yet.  Here’s our roundup of the latest news on the storm.

SCHOOLS CLOSING FOR FRIDAY FEB 14th:

Quite a few area schools have announced Friday will be another “snow day” for students.  You can find an updated list for schools, government offices and businesses here:  http://charlotte.twcnews.com/content/weather/closings/

PRESS CONFERENCE:

Here are the headlines:

Even though the sun was shining when he took the podium, Mayor Patrick Cannon warned citizens the roads will freeze tonight.  Adding it will take a few days to clean up from this storm.

Danny Pleasant of CDOT said street conditions are improving but echoed the Mayor’s caution about road conditions tonight after the temperature drops below freezing.  He warns of possible black ice.  CDOT crews will be operating around the clock. 

ROADS:

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials say their crews are working twelve hour shifts to clear state roads and interstates – like I-85 and I-77.  Littlefield is the maintenance engineer for Mecklenburg County.  He says it helped that people stayed inside. Littlefield recommends people wait until NCDOT crews plow roads in their area before venturing out too far.

Charlotte is having more trouble. On local roads, the city's superintendent of street maintenance says there's a lot of work left to do as different parts of the city saw big surges in snow.

Khattak says the Southwest part of the city is seeing most of the snow pile-up right now. He expects to be clearing snow till Sunday.

AIRPORT:

Many travelers are stuck at Charlotte-Douglas airport tonight after all US Airways flights were grounded today.  A handful of flights will be allowed to take off. WFAE’s Ben Bradford has our update.

POWER OUTAGES:

Duke Energy reports more than 6,800 houses are still without power in Mecklenburg County.  That’s down from more than 14,000 earlier today.

Union County has about 1,900 reported outages.  Cabarrus and Lincoln counties have a few hundred homes without power – that’s down from around 1,200 each just a few hours ago. 

CARBON MONOXIDE INCIDENT:

In eastern North Carolina, authorities say six family members are recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning after they brought a charcoal grill indoors to keep warm during the storm.  Pender County’s emergency management director said all six were taken to hospitals and are expected to survive.

NATIONAL GUARD DEPLOYED:

Lt. Colonel Maury Williams tells us that nearly 200 National Guard personnel are deployed across the state.  They’re helping stranded drivers and also providing a transport service for some people who have to work.  A big part of their day has been getting doctors and the like back and forth to hospitals.   

CHARLOTTE CITY MANAGER ON NPR:
You can take a listen to Robert Siegel’s interview with Ron Carlee here:

Stay tuned to WFAE on 90.7 or visit WFAE.org for the latest news on the storm.

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3:10 p.m. UPDATE:

The sun is (mostly) out and temperatures continue to climb.  Weather.com has Charlotte at a relatively balmy 36 degrees, with a projected high today of 38.  

PRESS CONFERENCE:

Mayor Patrick Cannon and other city officials will hold a press conference at 4:30pm today.  We'll bring you the latest on ATC and here on our website.

A BIT OF FUN:

Earlier today we posted how students from Durham Academy told their classmates school was canceled.  Ok they posted it on you tube as well - and since then its gone a bit viral.  For those of you who missed it the first time, here you go:

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2:20 p.m. UPDATE:

Weather.com reports its 35 degrees in Charlotte.  But even though the temperature is now above the freezing point ground temperatures remain low so not much is expected to melt.  And there's still a chance of continued rain, freezing rain and sleet today.

During extreme weather events, like this snowstorm, information seems to come in mostly in bullet point form.  With that in mind:

CATS BUS SERVICE SUSPENDED:

These three bullet points released by CATS says it all:

*CATS Bus Service Suspended*

*Thursday, February 13, 2014*

*All Routes*

There is one more unofficial route a CATS bus is trying to complete.  Earlier today the Red Cross closed its emergency warming center in uptown Charlotte.  A spokeswoman says the center was closed because there was room at existing homeless centers.  A CATS is supposed to transport some 175 homeless people from the warming center to area shelters.  But the bus or buses are now stuck.  And a number of the people at the warming center are convinced there will be no room for them at other shelters.  So they’re trying to find places they can stay warm outside. 

WFAE’s Ben Bradford is there and will have the story on tomorrow’s Morning Edition.

POLICE DEPARTMENT UPDATE:

The key bullet points from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department are, not surprisingly, about the difficult driving conditions. 

*CMPD has responded to 160 calls for disabled vehicles in the roadway this morning

*CMPD has responded to 221 total accidents (204 property damage, 17 personal injury) since yesterday.

*People are largely staying off the roads OR getting stuck at this point.

AAA CALL VOLUME DOWN:

AAA is reporting a significant decrease in calls for assistance in the Charlotte area.  That’s the good news.  The bad news, history shows the number of calls will greatly increase once people decide to head back out before its safe. WFAE's Kevin Kniestedt has the story:

MECKLENBURG MEDIC:

Ambulance service Mecklenburg Medic says it has responded to far fewer accidents today – after a big spike in calls when the snowstorm hit yesterday.   But, Medic spokeswoman Tara Ragan says crews are keeping busy with storm related incidents.  These include carbon monoxide exposure, fires caused by improper heating sources and slip and fall accidents.

Another concern, says Ragan, is heart attacks from over-exertion, as people grow restless to ‘dig out’ from the storm.

PROOF SNOW TREATS EVERYONE THE SAME:

Anonymous snowman at the Boardwalk in University City
Anonymous snowman at the Boardwalk in University City
Credit Tom Bullock/WFAE News

WFAE's Lisa Miller has the story of one NCDOT official who learned what can happen when you hit the road before they've been cleared. 

Stay tuned to WFAE on 90.7 or visit WFAE.Org for the latest news on the storm.

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1:00 p.m. UPDATE

The first part of this winter storm has passed.  But the second wave of snow is falling on the Charlotte area.  A winter storm warning issued by The National Weather Service remains in effect until 6pm this evening.  And it contains this strong warning:

THE HEAVY SNOW WILL MAKE TRAVEL TREACHEROUS...IF NOT
IMPOSSIBLE. MANY ROADS ARE IMPASSABLE WHERE HEAVY SNOW HAS
FALLEN THROUGH THE MORNING HORUS. HEAVY SNOW WILL CONTINUE TO
CAUSE WIDESPREAD POWER OUTAGES.

We could see another 2 to 4 inches of snow during the day.  But another wave of sleet and freezing rain is expected later today.

POWER OUTAGES:

As of 1pm Duke Energy is reporting more than 14,000 homes in Mechlenburg County are without power.  And there are 4265 outages in Cabarrus County.  In all more than 36,000 homes are currently without power.

ROAD TRAVEL:

The roads remain tricky.  NCDOT and CDOT plows are out but today's snowfall combined with yesterday's snow and freezing rain means the difficult conditions continue.  The interstates and some busy streets have been plowed but many neighborhood streets in the area remain covered in more than four inches of snow.

Credit Michael Tomsic

STUCK IN CHARLOTTE

WFAE's Michael Tomsic was out reporting early this morning.  Along the way met  Gregory Abrams who made it back to his house in Concord last night but not into his driveway.

"I couldn't get home last night, so I had to park down the street and walk home," he said.  

And this morning, he had work. So he drove his Toyota Camry down to the university area. He says the commute was icy but not too bad, until he tried to pull into a parking lot.  His car quickly became stuck in the snow and slush.

Eventually, Abrams' wheels did find their grip.  But Tomsic reports that less than 100 yards behind Abram's car was another, sitting there abandoned.

WFAE's Tom Bullock spoke with someone who had no choice but to test his luck on the roads.

AIR TRAVEL:

The winter storm has not been kind to air travelers either.

U.S. Airways has just announced it is canceling all arrivals to Charlotte-Douglas for the rest of the day.  And the airline says only a limited number of planes will depart from its second-largest hub.  Here's part of their release:

"As of Thursday morning, based on the current weather conditions, US Airways, a subsidiary of American Airlines, has canceled all arrivals for the remainder of the day. Flights that are currently en route to Charlotte will land. A very limited number of departures from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) are scheduled to operate this evening, but this is subject to change based on weather conditions."

The airline has also canceled two-thirds of its 3,000 flights nationally. 

The east coast airports of Washington Reagan, Philadelphia, and New York La Guardia are all operating on limited schedules, as well, as the storm makes its way up the coast. Yesterday, more than half of the planned flights from Charlotte didn’t leave, and airport officials say about a thousand would-be passengers spent their night at the airport. The FAA reports the average flight delay from Reagan to Charlotte is …more than four and a half hours.