02/16/04 — Weather

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By Karinne Young
Published in News on February 16, 2004 2:04 PM

Wayne County missed much of the wintry precipitation forecast for overnight and woke up to find just a dusting of snow and blustery winds.

The next round could be a different story, however.

The National Weather Service is calling for a mix of rain and snow Tuesday, along with sleet. Snow could also fall Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

The wintry mix is courtesy of a low pressure system expected to form off the South Carolina coast and move north along the coastline. For Wayne, that means the closer the low is to the coast, the better the chance of snow here and in other counties east of Interstate 95.

The amount of snow or sleet depends on when low pressure forms, where and its proximity to the coast throughout the day. As of this morning, the weather service has not given any estimates of the amount of precipitation except to say that some snow accumulation is possible.

There is enough cold air in place to support snow or sleet with highs expected in the upper 30s on Tuesday and lows around 30 Tuesday night.

Because the storm's timing is uncertain, the weather service is advising residents to monitor forecasts in the event watches, warnings or advisories have to be issued.

The good news is the weather radically improves later in the week, warming into the lower 60s Friday and Saturday but with a threat of showers and thunderstorms Saturday afternoon.

Up to 7 inches of snow collected on portions of North Carolina by this morning, with most of the wintry precipitation confined to the northern mountains and foothills, the northern piedmont and coastal plain, the National Weather Service reported.

Snow and sleet accumulations ranging between 3 and 6 inches stretched from the northern foothills through the northern piedmont, the weather service said. Heavy snow fell near the Virginia border, where 7 inches was measured in Reidsville in Rockingham County late Sunday night.

No serious problems were reported in Rockingham County, said Billy Littrell, a dispatcher for the sheriff's office.

Three inches of snow fell in the northeast piedmont and up to the Virginia border.

A winter storm warning for central and northeastern North Carolina was canceled this morning as snow and sleet tapered off after midnight.

More snow was possible on Tuesday, the weather service said. A strong high pressure system over southeast Canada was forecast to force cold air into North Carolina and, coupled with another area of low pressure, raised the prospect for more snow.

The further out to sea the two weather systems meet, the less likely inland areas of the state would see significant snow accumulation.

"There's still quite a bit of uncertainty," said Scott Sharpe, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

If the low pressure system forms closer to the North Carolina coast, snow could fall as far inland as the piedmont, he said.

With skies clearing early Monday, temperatures dropped into the 20s and caused some slush to refreeze. Forecasters predicted temperatures would rise into the upper 30s and 40s in some areas to speed melting.

Durham and Orange County school systems canceled classes. Wake County operated on a two-hour delay on Presidents Day, a holiday which had been designated as a makeup day for students on a traditional schedule. Most school systems in northeastern North Carolina were closed because of the weather.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University delayed the start of classes today.

State road crews dispatched their salt trucks early, and they'll continue to clear roads today, said Tonya Beaddles of the state Transportation Department in Alamance County.

"We've been working 12-hour shifts," she said.

Some North Carolinians groaned Sunday night at the thought of more dreary weather. Others, such as Scott Stanley of Sugar Mountain in Avery County, celebrated the area's latest snowfall. He was prepared with tire chains and other winter equipment.

"I love this weather and this place," Stanley said.

The owner of Scott's Pizza Place, sandwiched between two ski resorts, said he was having a record sales weekend.

"The road conditions delay deliveries, but (the snow) brings people here," he said. "There are probably 25,000 people here and at the resorts right now, more than at Martin Luther King weekend."

A few hours to the south, John Corley of Concord said he was "most definitely sick of this weather."

"I'm ready for some sunshine," Corley said, adding that his construction business suffers in bad weather. He said that in last month's snowstorms, he was isolated and frustrated.

"My driveway's on a hill; we were pretty much stuck here," he said. "That's hard when you work for yourself."