RALEIGH (AP) — A winter storm that dumped at least 7 inches of snow in North Carolina’s mountains and kept thousands of school children at home Friday also forced the closing of a ferry route linking two Outer Banks islands.
The ferry route linking Hatteras and Ocracoke islands was suspended indefinitely on Friday after the storm’s high winds Thursday night pushed sand into the channel used by the hourly ferry and made the route impassable, state transportation officials said. An extra trip is being added to the Ocracoke-to-Swan Quarter route starting Saturday.
Thursday’s storm is just the latest disruption to the Hatteras-Ocracoke ferry. Ferry trips have been suspended daily during low tide because shoaling in the channel has been aggravated by sand moved by Hurricane Sandy, two back-to-back Nor’easters and several other wind storms this winter, the state Transportation Department said.
The National Weather Service said Thursday’s storm dumped 7 inches of snow in Newland in Avery County. Five inches of snow were reported near Bethel Hill near the Virginia state line in Person County. Two to 3 inches were reported in the Winston-Salem and Greensboro areas.
The major electric utilities reported more than 14,000 customers without power early Friday, but that number had fallen to about 1,200 later in the day.
Tens of thousands of students stayed home after schools closed due to roads left icy after rain on Thursday turned to snow as temperatures dropped. Other schools across the state delayed the start of classes because of the storm.
The storm was preceded by steady rains that caused nearly 60 landslides in western North Carolina. Swollen creeks and rivers in the state’s mountains road closings in Transylvania and Henderson counties.
The N.C. Highway Patrol reported one fatal accident Friday, though spokesman 1st Sgt. Jeff Gordon said it was not immediately clear whether the crash was weather related.
A man died on Interstate 40 near Valdese at approximately 1:20 a.m. Friday when his vehicle struck a guardrail and came to a stop without any lights on. A second vehicle then struck the first in the passenger door area.
The deceased driver was identified as Stephen Thomas Barker, 24, of Morganton.