The Latest: Forecasters say worst-case scenario occurring
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on the winter storm approaching eastern North Carolina (all times local):
The National Weather Service says the worst-case scenarios for snowfall in eastern North Carolina are materializing.
The weather service office in Raleigh said Wednesday it was receiving reports of 3 inches or more of snow in areas southeast of the city. As a result, forecasters expanded a winter-storm warning and increased snowfall totals for the Sandhills region.
According to the latest forecast, accumulations between 2 inches (5 centimeters) and 4 inches (10 centimeters) are expected to lead to hazardous travel conditions in the areas including Moore, Lee, Harnett, Scotland, Hoke and Cumberland counties. Forecasters warn of significant reductions in visibility because of the snow.
The winter-storm warning remains in effect for the coastal plain until Thursday. A blizzard warning is in effect for Pasquotank, Camden and Currituck counties until Thursday afternoon.
Three schools in a North Carolina system were shut down because of a power outage and a failed heating system.
The Fayetteville Observer reports the Cumberland County Schools systems said the power failed at Stedman Elementary and Stedman Primary schools on Wednesday. Students who showed up for classes were taken to a middle school, where they gathered in a gym because it has heat.
Officials said Westover High School in Fayetteville canceled classes because its heating system failed. The high school held a teacher workday instead.
Across the county, children were being sent home from school two hours early because of the snowstorm expected to impact eastern portions of North Carolina.
The National Weather Service in Wakefield, Virginia, has posted a blizzard warning for extreme northeastern North Carolina.
Specifically, the warning is in effect for Camden and Currituck counties from 4 p.m. Wednesday until 1 p.m. Thursday. Forecasters are calling for up to 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow, and with 50 mph (80 kph) wind gusts, whiteout conditions are possible.
The weather service says travel will be very dangerous to impossible during the warning period, including the morning commute on Thursday.
Forecasters are calling for between 4 inches (10 centimeters) and 7 inches (17 centimeters), with localized amounts of up to 10 inches (25 centimeters). A trace amount of ice is also possible.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says state officials are treating a quick-moving storm in eastern North Carolina seriously because of its expected combination of freezing rain, snow and high winds, followed by continued frigid temperatures.
Cooper said Wednesday at a pre-storm news conference that he’s worried about people who could lose power during the storm and their ability to heat their homes. Since temperatures are expected to remain at or below freezing for the next several days, Cooper says it may be more difficult for first responders and transportation crews to work.
Cooper says he’ll issue an emergency declaration in storm-affected areas. Eight hundred Department of Transportation employees already are involved in anti-icing operations on state roads. Still, the governor urged people in affected areas to stay off roads Wednesday night and Thursday because they could become dangerous.
North Carolina is bracing for snow, ice and bitterly cold temperatures.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning or advisory for 44 counties in central and eastern North Carolina.
A wind chill advisory is in effect in 22 counties in western North Carolina.
Many schools and government offices planned to close early Wednesday.
Duke Energy reports about 3,500 customers without electricity, with the biggest problems in Cumberland and Harnett counties.
Up to 3 inches (8 centimeters) of snow is expected along the Outer Banks with 5 inches (13 centimeters) expected in eastern North Carolina.
Some areas near the coast could get as much as 8 inches (20 centimeters) of snow by Thursday.
In western North Carolina wind chills of -25 (-32 Celsius) degrees are possible through Thursday.