CHARLOTTE (AP) — Freezing rain and sleet closed schools and caused hundreds of wrecks Friday across North Carolina.
Two rounds of sleet and freezing rain crossed the state, leaving a thin coat of ice, which was enough to bring about every major highway in the state to a standstill for a time.
The storm has caused no deaths, and only scattered power outages have been reported.
Icy conditions were at their worst Friday afternoon, and traffic was moving less than 30 mph on much of Interstate 40 from Winston-Salem to Raleigh and Interstate 85 from Charlotte to Durham, according to the Department of Transportation.
Charlotte police were responding to dozens of calls of cars overturned, with similar problems being reported in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham and Raleigh.
With temperatures in the 20s, it didn’t take long for the rain to freeze. Doug Hopkins stopped at a gas station in Kings Mountain to buy some cigarettes. By the time he came back out, his car was coated in ice.
“That didn’t take long,” the 28-year-old construction worker said.
Traffic crept along I-85 south of Charlotte as several people driving too fast for conditions spun off the road or into other vehicles.
“When it gets like this, people drive crazy,” Hopkins said. “You want to stay off the roads. You can get hurt.”
The heaviest freezing rain and sleet moved into the eastern part of the state as the sun went down. Traffic on Interstate 95 slowed to a standstill because of numerous wrecks and crews trying to get salt and sand down. Snow was even reported on the beaches of the Outer Banks.
All but eight counties in the southeast corner of the state are under some kind of winter weather advisory or warning. Most areas reported a coating of ice a tenth of an inch or less on railings, power lines and limbs, according to the National Weather Service.
Road conditions would have been much worse if crews hadn’t worked for days to get ready for the storm, said DOT spokeswoman Nicole Meister.
But just because the freezing rain and sleet was coming to an end didn’t mean problems were over for drivers. Temperatures won’t rise above freezing in much of the state until late Saturday morning or even into the afternoon, forecasters said.
“We’re really worried about the potential for black ice tonight and tomorrow morning,” Meister said.
But the chill won’t last too long. Forecasters say highs in much of North Carolina should be in the 60s by Tuesday.