January 28, 2014

Winter weather is here, but how
much snow will we get?


As advertised, wintry precipitation began mid-morning on Hatteras and Ocracoke – with a mixture of sleet, snow, and a little bit of freezing rain.

By noon, roads on southern Hatteras Island were getting slippery in spots and some decks and grassy areas had a trace of snow on them.

Temperatures this afternoon were hovering near freezing on Hatteras, the north wind was blowing, and the sand was smoking across Highway 12 in Pea Island.

However, the National Weather Service in Newport, N.C., promises that the worst is yet to come.

A winter storm warning is in effect until 4 p.m. on Wednesday, and there is also a wind advisory for the area – for winds gusting above 40 mph.

The Weather Service says that a layer of warmer air aloft – above 2,000 feet -- will keep much of the precipitation early tonight switching back and forth among sleet, rain, and freezing rain. 

As temperatures drop overnight, the precipitation will change over to snow with as much as 2 to 3 inches accumulating on Hatteras and Ocracoke.

The heaviest snow, according to NWS meteorologist Bob Frederick, is now expected north and west of Oregon Inlet, with perhaps 4 to 7 inches falling on the northern Outer Banks.

Dare County Emergency Management continues to monitor the weather and advises that road conditions will deteriorate as the storm approaches.  By late this afternoon, residents are asked to stay home and avoid driving if at all possible.  Although the snow and sleet are expected to end early Wednesday, roadways will remain hazardous through Friday morning. 

The gusty winds will also bring higher than normal tide levels on Hatteras and Ocracoke, though there are no coastal flood advisories.

However, Frederick cautioned that whether it’s heavy snow, sleet, or freezing rain, driving conditions will become treacherous tonight and not improve tomorrow.

A gradual warming trend will start on Friday, and temperatures could be close to 60 over the weekend.


  • Some closings were announced late yesterday and this morning, but you can expect more by tomorrow.
  • Dare County offices in Frisco closed at noon, though they remained open north of Oregon Inlet, where the snow had not yet begun.
  • Dare County Schools announced a noon dismissal, but moved that up to 11:20 as the roads began getting icy in spots. Nothing has been announced about school tomorrow, but it seems likely it will be cancelled.
  • All after school activities scheduled through Dare County Parks and Recreation are cancelled. 
  • In addition, Dare County Transportation cancelled all scheduled appointments for this afternoon. 
  • Dare County District and Superior courts were closed today, and Small Claims Court will be closed on Wednesday because of the likelihood of hazardous road conditions. All parties will receive notice of their new court date via U.S. Mail or may check with their attorney for further information. Also, Juvenile Court sessions for Wednesday have been cancelled. For more information, please call the Dare County Clerk of Courts Office at (252) 475-5200 or visit www.nccourts.org
  • Hyde County government offices were closed today and will remain closed Wednesday and Thursday.
  • National Park Service’s Outer Banks Group units -- Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Fort Raleigh National Historic Site and Wright Brothers National Memorial – closed today. In anticipation of this weather event, NPS facilities located on Ocracoke and Hatteras islands closed at 11 a.m. today. Bodie Island, Wright Brothers National Memorial and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site closed at noon today.  All facilities will probably remain closed on Wednesday, Jan. 29 or longer, until the impacts of the storm can be assessed and conditions are safe for visitor travel.

Electric Power companies on the Outer Banks are making preparations for power outages. If you lose power or other utilities, do not call 911. Use customer service numbers to report power outages.  Dominion Power: 1-866-366-4357, Tideland:  1-800-882-1001, and Cape Hatteras:  1-866-511-9862. Freezing rain is a major threat to power lines on the island – much more than snow, according to Susan Flythe, general manager of Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.

N.C. Department of Transportation maintenance crews are ready as winter weather begins to arrive in the 14 counties making up NCDOT’s Division One in northeastern North Carolina. Maintenance crews in Bertie, Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hertford, Hyde, Martin, Northampton, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties spread salt brine on all N.C. and U.S. routes throughout the region yesterday, as well as on major secondary roads. Salt brine is a mix of salt and water used to prevent ice from forming and adhering to road surfaces. By putting down the brine in advance, the salt has had more time to adhere to the pavement before any precipitation begins, providing better protection from snow and ice.

Crews are ready in all 14 counties to plow roads and spread salt and sand where necessary. Precipitation had already begun falling this afternoon in areas closer to Hyde and Dare counties. Because the winter weather is forecast to begin this afternoon and continue overnight through tomorrow, crews will work in shifts around the clock to clear roads and make sure that they are safe for motorists. 

In addition to crews already in Division One, additional trucks and crews are mobilizing to the region from areas in the western part of the state where they are not forecasted to have a significant accumulation.

Dare County advises residents to make final preparations as soon as possible.  

  • Have a household emergency supply kit, including a supply of drinking water and non-perishable foods. Bottled water or water in containers should be stored should utilities be disrupted.  
  • Provide shelter for pets. 
  • Keep cell phones charged.   
  • Ensure that flashlights and a battery-powered radio are in good working order. Have plenty of batteries. Use of candles and other open-flame light sources is not recommended.
  • Dress appropriately with head and hands covered if you go outdoors in temperatures below freezing. 
  • Avoid over-exertion. Cold weather puts a strain on the heart, even without exercise.
  • Check on neighbors and relatives.  The elderly are especially susceptible to hypothermia and falls on icy surfaces.

For more information on weather and road conditions, go to http://www.erh.noaa.gov/er/mhx/ or Http://www.darenc.com.

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