Wilmington dodged an ice bullet Friday morning but is back in the bullseye for Friday night and Saturday. Rain and intermittent snow flurries are forecast for the rest of Friday and whatever falls is expected to stay on the ground and roads for a while as temperatures dive into the upper 20s overnight.
Gov. Roy Cooper warned Friday that widespread power outages still are likely as well as treacherous driving conditions.
“Roads will become more dangerous and power outages are still expected tonight in southeastern counties,” Cooper said Friday. “If you can, stay put and off the roads as that’s the best way to stay safe.”
Duke Energy’s main concern is ice buildup on trees and branches that causes them to fall on power lines. A quarter-inch or more is often the threshold amount that causes trees and branches to topple, Duke spokesperson Mark Brooks said.
On Friday afternoon, an army of Duke Energy field workers was staged at its service facility on Raleigh Road, part of a group of 10,000 deployed across North and South Carolina.
With the winter weather affecting the entire East Coast, at 2 p.m. Friday afternoon the flight-status display at Wilmington International Airport showed all but one flight had been canceled.
The airport does not often deal with snow and ice, but spokesperson Erin McNally said it is prepared.
“In the event of a winter storm, ILM implements the airport’s snow and ice plan,” McNally said.
“Our team checks all equipment in advance to ensure it is operational and ready for use,” McNally said. “For this projected ice storm, ILM ordered additional de-icing chemicals for the runways and taxiways. ILM also stays in close contact with airport tenants, so we are aware of any potential impacts to their operations.”
McNally said the airport proactively communicates with the public to encourage travelers to reach out directly to their airlines for the most up-to-date flight status.
Although flights may be canceled, McNally said the airport itself is always open, McNally said.
“The ILM team works diligently to ensure the airfield is open, safe, and operational,” she said. “Airlines may delay or cancel flights based on weather impacts within the flight network, including the origin or destination cities.”
Friday morning commutes were mostly uneventful, the N.C. Department reported, but warned that conditions would be deteriorating for the drive home. The NCDOT follows a priority system for clearing roads, with interstate and four-lane divided primary routes and other primary and secondary routes coming first. The NCDOT generally does not go into neighborhoods.
The weather also was affecting those riding on the water. Service by the Fort Fisher-Southport Ferry was canceled early Friday morning. Officials will monitor conditions and resume service based on road, ferry and wind conditions.
“Once the winter weather starts, the best thing you can do is stay home,” NCDOT Chief Operating Officer Beau Memory said Friday. “Staying off the roads will make it easier for our crews and emergency responders to do their jobs.”