LUMBERTON — There was a good chance that county residents hitting the road before the sun rises Tuesday morning will have to deal with roadways covered by a mix of rain and ice, and even a little snow.
The National Weather Service in Wilmington issued late Monday afternoon a freeze warning for Robeson County that was in effect for 4 to 9 a.m. Tuesday. The Weather Service was predicting the temperature to be in the low 30s and an 80 percent chance of precipitation, with accumulations as much as quarter of an inch. A freeze warning means sub-freezing temperatures that can kill crops and other fragile vegetation are imminent.
Regardless of what wintry weather was forecast, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke announced late Monday afternoon that the campus will operate on a normal schedule today for students, faculty and staff. There was no word on possible schedule changes from the Public Schools of Robeson County or Robeson Community College.
The wintry weather may have had a hand in the traffic accidents that occurred on Interstate 95 about 5:30 p.m. Monday. At least two multi-vehicle accidents were seen in the northbound lanes near Exit 72 in Cumberland County, where light snow began to fall in the early afternoon. There was a single-vehicle accident near Exit 77. There was no information about injuries in the accidents.
The daytime forecast for Tuesday is sunshine and a high temperature near 54, according to the Weather Service. There is a slight chance of rain Tuesday night, with a low about 34.
Wednesday is supposed to be sunny with a daytime high near 48 and a nighttime low about 28 under clear skies.
The Weather Service is calling for sunny skies Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Daytime highs are predicted to be in the 60s on Thursday and Friday and near 58 on Saturday. The nighttime lows are expected to be in the low to mid-40s.
Elsewhere in North Carolina, snow fell across the northern tier of counties on Monday and forced schools to close and prompted Gov. Roy Cooper to tell motorists to stay off the road.
The National Weather Service issued winter weather advisories, winter storm warnings or freeze warnings for 67 of the state’s 100 counties on Monday.
“Even though the forecast tells us this storm will be short-lived, driving could remain hazardous tonight and tomorrow morning, especially on bridges and overpasses.” Cooper said in a news release.”
Cooper told a news conference that motorists in the Research Triangle area should stay off the road if they can, and use caution if they have to travel. People shouldn’t be misled by the rain that fell early because snow was anticipated later in the day and suggested motorists should stay home, he said.
Rain prevented transportation work crews from applying brine to roads, so the focus will be on snow removal, the governor said.
Some school systems held classes at the start of the day, but announced early dismissals in advance of the storm.
By 4 p.m., National Weather Service radar showed the back edge of the storm was almost clear of the Triad and focusing on the east. Snow, or a mixture of snow and sleet, was forecast for eastern Wake, eastern Harnett and all of Johnston counties. Sampson and Wayne counties were expected to see snow and sleet before sunset.
With falling temperatures came the concern for roads turning icy and creating hazardous driving conditions.
A winter storm warning was in effect until midnight Monday for northwestern North Carolina, where forecasters called for additional snow and sleet of up to 3 inches, leaving a total of as much as 6 inches for the day.