NCDOT, RDU Airport prepare for first snow in 437 days

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Thursday, February 20, 2020
NCDOT remains on alert on snow-related issues
NCDOT remains on alert on snow-related issues. Elaina Athans reports.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thursday's expected winter weather event is causing local school systems and the North Carolina Department of Transportation to take precautions.

Many school districts are closing early or canceling class outright to avoid having buses on the road during the worst of the storm. Rain will start in most parts of central North Carolina by 1 or 2 p.m. That will turn into a wintry mix between 3 and 5 p.m., when buses would typically be out on the roads. By 8 p.m., the majority of precipitation will be snow.

Northeast North Carolina is expected to see the highest impacts. North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said whiteout conditions were expected at the coast.

"The state's getting ready and now is the time for you to get ready too," Cooper said in a media briefing.

WATCH | Gov. Roy Cooper media briefing

Cooper told North Carolina residents it's time to get ready for Thursday's expected snow.

Thursday morning, officials were checking out school buses in Wake County ahead of a busy day. Wake is dismissing three hours early. School districts like Durham, Orange and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools are closed.

Cooper said 29 school districts in the state are closed and 55 are dismissing early on Thursday. 403 trucks across the state are putting out anti-icing brine. North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry asked drivers to stay off the roads if they can.

All 100 counties in North Carolina are under either a Winter Storm Warning or a Winter Weather Advisory. The snow drought for central North Carolina is expected to end after 437 days with no measurable snow. The last measurable snow was on Dec. 10, 2018.

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The NCDOT is ramping up to hit the roads with brine trucks. There will be more than 60 trucks out and plows and spreaders being sent out in the height of the storm. In Wake County, the EMS crews will have nearly 45 ambulances on the roads during peak time. The wintry mix will hit during the afternoon rush hour, making getting home problematic for many.

WATCH: Wake County school bus drivers prepare for busy day

Wake County Schools will be releasing early on Thursday.

"We're not really worried about it getting washed off the road," said the Wake County Maintenance Engineer, Jason Dunigan. "Anything over a quarter inch, a half an inch, you need to start worrying about it. But it's not in the forecast to rain that much. So whatever stops, after it falls, I'm not concerned with it washing off the roads."

NCDOT engineers said they will not be able to conduct a full brine operation but will concentrate on known trouble spots.

At Raleigh Durham International Airport, maintenance crews are working 12-hour shifts to make sure roads, taxiways and runways are clear.

The snow will end overnight. Cold temperatures will linger Friday, but the sunshine should melt any lingering slick spots on the roads.

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