This post will be updated frequently on Feb. 18, 2021 with the latest information and breaking news about winter weather conditions in North Carolina. The latest updates will be entered at the top with timestamps. Scroll down for older updates.
Some schools closed, and tens of thousands lost power as a winter storm swept through parts of North Carolina. An incoming second wave of freezing rain may still arrive tonight in areas north of I-85.
Duke Energy is reporting significantly fewer power outages than anticipated in today's winter weather. The utility says about 5,000 customers in North Carolina are still without power, mostly in the Triad and some counties along the Virginia border.
Duke Energy had predicted nearly a million outages in the Carolinas, but ice accumulations have been significantly less than forecasters expected. There's still a chance of freezing rain tonight in areas north of I-85. – Will Michaels, WUNC
State Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry says all major roads in North Carolina were open as of noon Thursday. Highway patrol had already responded to more than 170 accidents due to freezing rain and ice. – Amy Jeffries, WUNC
All Orange County public schools will be closed again Friday due to the weather and potential for power outages. Meal deliveries will also be suspended. – Amy Jeffries, WUNC
Light freezing rain and rain will continue into through the afternoon hours, with a break across the Triad this afternoon. Another round of rain and freezing rain is expected again this evening, primarily along and north of Interstate 85. #NCwx pic.twitter.com/lhX1IdR9Vq
— NWS Raleigh (@NWSRaleigh) February 18, 2021
A second wave of freezing rain is expected along and north of I-85 Thursday night and into Friday morning. The National Weather Service in Raleigh is forecasting at least three-tenths of an inch of ice, with the highest accumulations near the Virginia border.
Meteorologist Nick Pietro says he expects to see more damage as the day goes on.
“It ain't going to take much more ice to break some of those trees,” Pietro said. “Any additional freezing rain will lead to more power outages and broken trees, so we're not out of the woods yet."
Areas south of I-85 will see light amounts of freezing rain Thursday, but are more likely to experience flash flooding – especially south and east of Raleigh. Several rivers are also expected to reach flood stage. Many rivers are already flooding. Black ice is possible tonight in areas where temperatures dip below freezing. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
North Carolina public health officials say they're experiencing shipping delays that could cause providers to have to reschedule COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The Department of Health and Human Services says few Pfizer doses have shipped this week. Doses of the Moderna vaccine have yet to arrive. The inclement weather is causing delays across the country as states work to vaccinate people. North Carolina was expected to receive over 163,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine and nearly 127,000 does from Pfizer. People living in rural communities are more likely to get Moderna shots because of shipping and packaging constraints. – The Associated Press
Duke Energy is working to restore limited power outages as a winter storm makes its way through North Carolina. Duke Energy spokeswoman Meredith Archie says line crews were responding to about 20,000 power outages around 11 a.m., mostly in the Triad area.
“We anticipate those will continue to climb throughout the day, especially in these areas where there are below freezing temperatures,” Archie said. “That ice accumulation will continue to add up and that's when we see those tree limbs coming down and some of those outage numbers going up.”
The company had predicted nearly a million customers could lose power in the storm. But forecasters say a second wave of rain and freezing rain will hit the state Thursday night. That could also cause flooding, particularly in the Sandhills and coastal plain. – Will Michaels, WUNC
Localized flash flooding is possible later today in many areas across central North Carolina. Freezing rain that's falling now will soon turn into real rain. Over a dozen counties are under a flash flood watch. Many rivers are currently in flood warning and could reach flood stage over the next few days. The rain is expected to continue through tomorrow. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
More than 18,000 households in North Carolina are without power Thursday morning.
Total power outages as of 10:00 am on Feb. 18, 2021, is 18,786. The majority of these outages are along the VA border. The threat of power outages is not over, so be sure to charge your devices.
More at https://t.co/OTBe8H646D.
— NC Emergency Management (@NCEmergency) February 18, 2021
The National Weather Service in Raleigh predicts up to four-tenths of an inch of ice could fall in the Triad area. In the Triangle, ice accumulations could go up to one-tenth of an inch.
Several counties are also under a flash flood watch for when the freezing rain turns into precipitation. Meteorologist Andrew Kren says these last several weeks have already been very wet, creating a ripe
“Additional rounds of potentially some heavy rains tonight, especially the Triangle to the east,” Kren said. “Could see that potential period where there could be some flash flooding where the ground is already well saturated."
Seven rivers are currently in flood warning and could reach flood stage over the next few days. The rain is expected to continue through tomorrow. Meteorologists predict total precipitation from this storm could reach over an inch in the Triad, almost two inches in the Triangle and around two-and-a-half inches across the coastal plain. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
Weather.com says the temperature in Durham is 30 degrees. Its forecast predicts a high of 35 degrees Thursday, with a mix of rain and freezing rain falling all day. – Mitchell Northam, WUNC
Goverment offices in Guilford County are closed Thursday.
— Guilford County (@GuilfordCounty) February 18, 2021
Sgt. Chris Knox with the State Highway Patrol told WRAL that “at least several” weather-related crashes have already been reported across central North Carolina. Knox asked that drivers stay at home, if possible. Said Knox: "The only way to prepare (for ice) is to not drive on it.” WRAL reported a “very light glazing” of ice on roads in Durham around 5:45 a.m. Thursday. – Mitchell Northam, WUNC
Because of the inclement weather, many local city and county government offices will open later than usual this morning, including Johnston and Wake counties and the cities of Rocky Mount and Burlington. Durham and Orange counties' government offices buildings will be closed today.
Several school districts have canceled or delayed classes today, or are participating in online only learning. Durham Public Schools and Orange County Schools will be closed today. Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools and Johnston County will conduct remote learning only.
UNC-Chapel Hill is not holding any in person or remote classes today.
COVID-19 vaccine events are also being canceled and rescheduled. This includes some appointments held by UNC Health and Franklin, Wake and Durham counties. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
The National Weather Service in Raleigh doesn't expect to see any snow to come along with this storm.
We aren't expecting to see any snow with this storm - we have air well above freezing higher in the atmosphere. The warm layer will be thick enough most of the time to support freezing rain; occasionally where the layer is thinner, we could have some sleet mix in. pic.twitter.com/uvgVv1vXUM
— NWS Raleigh (@NWSRaleigh) February 18, 2021
Freezing rain is starting to fall across central North Carolina. Counties along I-85 are under a winter storm warning issued by the National Weather Service in Raleigh. Counties south of I-85 are under a winter weather advisory. Areas could see ice accumulations of one quarter to one half inch, with some locally higher amounts.
Over a dozen counties are also under a flash flood watch. Several rivers could flood today. Widespread rainfall will continue all day long. – Celeste Gracia, WUNC
This post is compiled and edited by Mitchell Northam, Elizabeth Baier and Laura Pellicer.