01/28/04 — Thaw is slow coming for much of N.C.

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Thaw is slow coming for much of N.C.

By Wire
Published in News on January 28, 2004 2:02 PM

RALEIGH (AP) -- The higher temperatures needed to melt snow and ice that have strangled much of North Carolina will arrive slowly because of wind associated with a cold front, forecasters said today.

The National Weather Service issued a high wind warning for the northern mountains and a wind advisory for the remainder of the mountains through 4 p.m.

Although skies cleared during the night and eliminated the threat of more precipitation, temperatures weren't expected to reach higher than the low 40s by afternoon, forecasters said.

Winds in the mountains were expected to have gusts of 40 mph to 60 mph and elsewhere gusts between 20 mph and 30 mph were forecast.

The winter storm began Sunday with snow and sleet across much of the state and was capped with freezing rain that kept many businesses and schools closed through Tuesday. Up to 4 inches of snow and sleet fell in portions of the state.

Traffic was slow moving on primary roads, especially in eastern counties near Interstate 95, because of the ice. By Tuesday evening, however, moderating temperatures, salt and snow plows had cleared primary routes.

Back roads and subdivision streets still were treacherous.

Utilities reported about 20,000 outages, most caused by ice-laden tree limbs hitting power lines. A day earlier, the utilities had about 30,000 customers without power, most of them in southeastern counties.

Seven people, including a 9-year-old boy, have died in weather-related traffic accidents in the storm. The state Highway Patrol handled more than 7,000 calls for assistance during the storm.

State road crews spread about 40,000 tons of salt in three days, about 10,000 tons less than it uses in an entire typical winter, said Gov. Mike Easley.