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North Carolina, Virginia brace for blast of ice, snow

A snow plow moves on a snowy Durham, N.C., street on Sunday.
Jonathan Drew/AP
via NPR
2018 FILE -- A snow plow moves on a snowy Durham, N.C., street on a Sunday.

The Carolinas and Virginia are bracing for more winter weather, with some schools canceling classes as state officials urged residents to prepare for the storm and stay off potentially icy roads.

Forecasters predict the storm will arrive as mixed precipitation on Thursday, followed by a round of snow on Friday night into Saturday. The winter blast could ice over a large swath of eastern North Carolina and the northeastern corner of South Carolina, while dumping snow on the Norfolk, Virginia, area, according to the National Weather Service.

The forecast prompted Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin to declare a state of emergency Thursday that will remain in effect through Saturday. His executive order allows the state greater flexibility in mobilizing people and resources to prepare and respond.

“I urge all Virginians to monitor their local weather forecasts and take personal safety precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of their families,” Youngkin said in a statement that called on Virginians to stay off the road during hazardous conditions.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a state of emergency Wednesday ahead of the storm, the second to hit the state in a week. Last week’s storm’s impacts were felt most in western and central North Carolina, but this storm is expected to bring ice to the southeast and snow to the Raleigh area northeast toward the coast.

“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,” Cooper said in a statement.

An ice storm warning was issued in northeastern South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina, where rain was expected to change Thursday night to mixed precipitation that includes freezing rain. The area could receive up to a quarter inch (0.6 centimeters) of ice before Sunday.

An initial wave of snow could dump several inches on parts of eastern Virginia and North Carolina on Thursday. A more significant round of snow is expected to arrive Friday night to Saturday morning. Parts of the area could get 3 to 5 inches (8 to 13 centimeters) of snow, according to the National Weather Service. Areas around Norfolk could see more than 5 inches (13 centimeters).

In northeastern North Carolina, Perquimans County school officials noted the rarity of snow in the area in announcing schools would be closed on Friday. Forecasters said the area could see several inches of snow.

“It is not often that we get to experience snow in Northeastern NC and we hope this will be a day that you can enjoy with your children," the school district's website said. "Stay safe, stay warm, and enjoy the snow!”

Around Wilmington, North Carolina, New Hanover County Schools said it was canceling Friday athletics and after-school activities and holding classes remotely because of icy conditions. Nearby Brunswick County canceled school altogether Friday due to the weather.

To the north in Virginia, Virginia Beach also canceled after-school activities and went to an asynchronous schedule for Friday. Citing the snow forecast, Norfolk Public Schools canceled class, adding the admonishment: “Stay Safe!”

In the Washington, D.C., area on Thursday, snow forecasts prompted federal government offices and schools to close or delay opening, but warmer temperatures kept frozen precipitation at bay.

Multiple school districts in Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia also closed Thursday due to slick roadways.

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