Stay off icy roads, officials warn after winter ice storm blasts Carolinas, Southeast with snow, sleet, rain

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After a winter storm Friday brought a miserable mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of the Southeast and mid-Atlantic, authorities are still warning people Saturday to stay off icy roads.

On Saturday morning, the storm had mostly receded on the Atlantic coast. It had left as much as six inches of snow in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, according to the National Weather Service and AccuWeather. Ice and snow blanketed coastal areas from South Carolina to Virginia, regions that do not often see such intense winter weather.

AccuWeather had predicted the ice storm would be a "once-in-a-decade" weather event for locations such as Wilmington and Myrtle Beach.

Officials on Friday and Saturday cautioned drivers to stay off slick, snow-packed roads and warned of black ice.

"The snow has stopped, the sun is up, temps remain below freezing and roads remain hazardous to motorists," the Virginia Department of Transportation tweeted Saturday morning. "Stay home and avoid travel today."

North Carolina's Department of Transportation echoed this warning, encouraging people to stay at home with hot chocolate and a movie rather than driving.

Huntersville Fire Department in North Carolina said it was responding to multiple crashes and told residents to stay off roadways.

"We've suddenly seen an uptick in citizens out on the roadway," the department tweeted. "We're also seeing a spike in crashes."

Southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina saw 4 to 6 inches of snow, paired with freezing temperatures, the NWS said.

In North and South Carolina, the highest amount of ice reported was half an inch, the NWS said.

Ice hangs from a sign along the Riverwalk in Wilmington, N.C., Saturday Jan. 22, 2022. A wintry mix fell throughout the night over the Wilmington area and created dangerous conditions.   [MATT BORN/STARNEWS]
Ice hangs from a sign along the Riverwalk in Wilmington, N.C., Saturday Jan. 22, 2022. A wintry mix fell throughout the night over the Wilmington area and created dangerous conditions. [MATT BORN/STARNEWS]

The icy roads caused safety concerns in North Carolina when a plane skidded off the runway Friday night at the state's icy Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Airport officials said no injuries were reported. An ambulance also slid off an icy road Friday, injuring two workers aboard, North Carolina’s state Highway Patrol said. Multiple crashes were reported Friday, the governor's office reported.

The storm also knocked out power Friday for thousands of people in parts of North Carolina, Duke Energy reported. Several thousand more lost power in coastal South Carolina.

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The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia each declared states of emergency as the storm approached. Several school systems canceled classes for Friday as the storm neared, and officials urged motorists to stay off the roads.

As dozens of counties from South Carolina to Virginia faced winter weather advisories, winter storm and ice warnings on Friday, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin declared a state of emergency Thursday that will remain in effect through Saturday, saying his executive order allows for greater flexibility in mobilizing people and resources to respond.

“I urge all Virginians to monitor their local weather forecasts and take personal safety precautions to ensure their safety and the safety of their families,” Youngkin said in a statement. He urged people to stay off roads during hazardous conditions.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed a state of emergency midweek, awaiting the second storm to hit the state in days. He said 114 National Guard troops were staging in central and eastern North Carolina to prepare to move to the affected areas.

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Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Winter ice storm blasts Carolinas, Southeast with snow, sleet, rain