North Carolina braces for ice storm as widespread power outages are expected

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Much of North Carolina, including the Triangle, is expected to see freezing rain and ice that could lead to widespread power outages Thursday.

Winter weather alerts are in place for parts of Eastern North Carolina to the mountains as much of the United States prepares for another potentially dangerous blast of ice and frigid temperatures.

Some parts in the state that were without power after a winter storm last weekend could be hit again. That includes counties north of Raleigh and Durham along the Virginia border.

Duke Energy said almost 1 million power outages are possible across North Carolina and South Carolina, including some that may last for days.

A winter storm warning has been issued for some parts of central North Carolina, including Durham, Granville, Orange and Person counties, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, forecasters have issued a winter weather advisory for Chatham, Franklin and Wake counties.

Winter weather alerts have also been issued in Western North Carolina, the Charlotte area and the Triad, where “significant icing” is possible.

Temperatures could dip below freezing — 31 degrees — in the Triangle, forecasters say.

“Confidence is increasing for another winter storm starting Wednesday, where freezing rain will be the primary threat,” North Carolina Emergency Management said on Twitter. “Be prepared for gusty winds, power outages, tree damage, river flooding and difficult travel. Make sure you have multiple ways to receive severe weather alerts.”

Alerts are in effect midnight to 7 a.m. in the Triangle on Thursday as ice is expected to accumulate.

Areas near the Virginia border could see more than half an inch of ice, while Raleigh could see less than one-tenth of an inch, according to the National Weather Service.

Ice, snow and tornadoes battered parts of the United States this week, leaving at least 20 people dead and millions without power, the Associated Press reported. Some Texans have had no electricity for more than a day, and rolling blackouts could stretch into Friday.

The wintry weather across the country has the potential to delay the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to North Carolina, The News & Observer reported.

In Durham, rain is expected Wednesday night before the potential for freezing rain starts at 1 a.m. Thursday. The wintry weather could stick around until after noon as a daytime high of 32 degrees is expected.

The ice could make roads slick and knock out electricity in areas under the winter storm warning, including those that are still recovering from a blast of winter weather last weekend that left thousands of people without power.

After ice accumulated on Saturday, electric provider Duke Energy said more than 300,000 customers had lost power.

Crews were still working Tuesday to restore power to about 6,000 Duke Energy customers along the Virginia border, Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said on Twitter. He added: “More winter weather on the way.”

Flooding possible near NC coast

The North Carolina coast isn’t expected to see icy conditions. But forecasters predict river flooding as a result of recent rain.

The Lumber River near Lumberton is expected to see moderate flooding, the Wilmington office of the National Weather Service said Tuesday. The Cape Fear River could experience minor flooding in some areas.

Coastal Brunswick County is recovering from an EF3 tornado that ripped through a neighborhood with little warning Monday night. Three people were killed, and 10 were injured.