Winter Storm Updates

Jan 22, 2016

Updated 10 a.m. Saturday

Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries will be closed today.

Updated 9:30 a.m. Saturday 1/23

The winter storm brought more sleet, freezing rain, and snow to the Carolinas Friday night. Forecasters expect a few flurries Saturday morning, before temperatures are expected to rise above freezing around noon. It'll stay mostly cloudy Saturday with a high in the mid-30s.

The Charlotte area avoided major power outages overnight, as the last of the winter storm moved through the Carolinas. Duke Energy says outages peaked around 8 a.m. at 149,435 customers. More than 110,000 of those are east of Raleigh. Duke estimates it will restore service to around 500 customers in Union County by 1 p.m. Saturday. North Carolina's electric cooperatives reported an outage peak Friday at 8 p.m. of 25,000 customers. The cooperatives said that had fallen to around 12,000 by 8 a.m. Saturday.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol says six people were killed in weather-related accidents this week, including a 4 year old boy in a crash on I-77 in Iredell County Friday afternoon. Officials warn that roads could re-freeze Saturday night, with lows expected in the mid-20s.

American Airlines plans to resume limited service in and out of Charlotte-Douglas International Airport at noon Saturday. Charlotte Mecklenburg libraries will reopen Saturday at 1 p.m.

Updated 4:15 p.m. Friday 1/22

Power outages are growing in the Carolinas as a result of the winter storm. As of 4:15 p.m. Friday, Duke Energy crews were working to restore power to 70,645 customers. The most concentrated outages are in the Greenville-Spartanburg area of South Carolina and along the western side of the I-95 corridor in North Carolina.

The Charlotte area has fared reasonably well so far. Duke restored service earlier today to about 700 customers in Mecklenburg County.  The National Weather Service measured 2.7 inches of sleet between midnight and 1 p.m Friday at the Charlotte airport

American Airlines plans to resume limited service in and out of Charlotte-Douglas airport at noon Saturday.

Roads and highways remain open, but officials are discouraging people from driving.

More sleet and freezing rain are expected tonight, turning to mostly snow after midnight. Temperatures will stay in the upper 20s. The snow should taper off by noon Saturday. The high will be around 35 degrees. There shouldbe clearing skies Satruday night with a low around 25. It's expected to be sunny and warmer Saturday, with highs in the mid-40s.

Updated 3:10 p.m.

Early afternoon brought a short break in freezing precipitation in the immediate Charlotte area.  But we aren’t through with the winter storm yet. Freezing rain and sleet will fall into the evening, changing to snow overnight. The National Weather Service say additional snow and sleet accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are possible tonight.

Duke Energy crews are tackling power outages across western and central North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina. The total number of Duke customers without electricity has now risen to more than 33,000. More than 15,000 of those outages are concentrated in the Greenville, SC area.

Roads and highways remain open across the region – but motorists are being discouraged from getting out.  The state DOT said this morning that crews had applied treatments including nearly  -million gallons of salt brine and more than 12,000 tons of salt in advance of the storm.

Updated 2:15 p.m.

Freezing rain is forecast for the Charlotte area this afternoon. Freezing rain and sleet is expected to change to snow overnight.  

Many residents are complying with requests to stay home. CMPD says police responded to 56 wrecks this morning – about half the normal number for a weekday.

The number of power outages reported by Duke Energy in the Carolinas stands at around 26,000. About 140 of those outages are in Mecklenburg County. The majority of Duke’s current outages are in Upstate South Carolina.   

Duke Energy spokesman Tim Gause says the utility has brought in about 2,800 workers from as far as Florida and Michigan to help deal with the storm:

"These crews began arriving yesterday. We’re staging them at various locations throughout the state. Around Spartanburg, Greenville, Asheville, Raleigh and Charlotte. Again, the full impact of this storm system is unknown at this time. But I want you to be prepared."

Airlines including American, Delta, United, Southwest and JetBlue have canceled all flights at Charlotte-Douglas Airport today. The city of Charlotte says street maintnance crews will work 12-hour shifts through tomorrow.

Many events are canceled due to the storm.   In Charlotte, the Gantt Center says tonight’s Dance Theatre of Harlem performance has been canceled. That performance is rescheduled for Sunday at 7:30 [/,/.

Updated 12:30 p.m.

CMPD Deputy Chief Jeff Estes said police responded to 56 wrecks Friday morning, which he said is about half the normal total for a weekday. He credited citizens for staying off the roads. 

Most power has been restored to Duke Energy customers in the Mecklenburg County. As of 12:30 p.m., 85 customers were were without power. The number had been about 700. Duke reports the overall number of customers in the Carolinas without power remains at roughly 25,000.

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts warns that road conditions will worsen today.

"We know that the temperature will stay around freezing and below, and that’s going to lead to icy conditions. were’ also worried about power lines and limbs. And also remember to check on your neighbors," Robers said in a press conference at the Government Center.

City and county offices are closed, as are the county courthouse and local schools. The NASCAR Hall of Fame has postponed tonight’s induction ceremony until Saturday afternoon.

Some events are going on as planned, including the Charlotte Checkers, tonight’s performance of the musical “Wicked” uptown, and the Easyriders motorcycle show at Ovens Auditorium Saturday.

Updated 12:04 p.m.

A winter storm is keeping many people at home, while road-and-utility crews are extra busy today in the Carolinas. Sleet and freezing rain are forecast through the day in the Charlotte region, and the National Weather Service says an additional one to three inches could accumulate today. Ice accumulations of one-quarter to a half-inch are also possible.

The number of power outages reported by Duke Energy continues to rise. The company reports nearly 24,000 Duke customers are currently without electricity in the Carolinas. That includes nearly 600 customers in Mecklenburg County, and more than 12,000 in Greenville County, SC.


At a press conference this morning, state Transportation Secretary Nick Tennyson said crews had done all they could to prepare the roads.

"We put out nearly 2 million gallons of salt brine in anticipation of the event, which helps keep ice from bonding to the roadway. We’ve also used more than 12,000 tons of salt and more than 5,000 tons of the sand, salt mixture."

Gov. Pat McCrory warned all that work may be for naught because of the nature of the storm.

"Going from snow to rain back to snow, back to rain to freezing ice. And you’ve got to recognize when the rain comes it’s taking off the materials the NCDOT did such a good job putting on," McCrory said.

And as the temperatures drop tonight, the risk of black ice forming on roads will increase. The state DOT says all state highways are open but some lanes are closed on the interstates – including I-40 East in Winston Salem and I-26 in the Hendersonville and Asheville areas.

Snow and rain started coming down early this morning. Expect a wintry mix in the Charlotte area and into the mountains throughout the day. 

WFAE’s Lisa Worf joins Morning Edition host Marshall Terry now to talk weather:

TERRY: We’ve heard Charlotte could get up to ½ an inch of ice.  When might we see the first of that?

WORF: I was talking to a meteorologist at the National Weather Service. He called this part of the storm in North and South Carolina variable, meaning it’s likely to alternate between snow and freezing rain for awhile today, before turning into snow this evening and tomorrow.   

TERRY: What kind of accumulation can we expect? 

WORF: Charlotte could see up to 3 inches of snow and some ice, too.  Hickory could see up to 10 inches of snow and more than a foot of snow is expected in parts of the mountains.  In South Carolina, the National Weather Service forecasts freezing rain north of Columbia with nearly a half-inch predicted from Spartanburg to Rock Hill and possibly a few inches of snow too.   

TERRY: How are the roads this morning? 

WORF: They’re slick. I-77 and 85 are slow-going and several accidents have been reported. But there aren’t that many people on the roads, since nearly all schools in the area are closed.  Charlotte Douglas is open today, but there aren’t many flights. A bunch of airlines have canceled all arrivals and departures including American, Delta, United, Southwest, and Lufthansa.   

TERRY: When will we see the last of this storm?

WORF: Right now we’re under a winter storm warning until 7 o’clock tomorrow evening.  It'll be mostly snow tonight and that should be winding down tomorrow evening.