ASHEBORO – A dangerous winter storm combining high winds and ice swept through parts of North Carolina and the South on Sunday, knocking out power, felling trees, covering roads with ice.
Tens of thousands of customers were without power in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Highway patrols were reporting hundreds of vehicle accidents, and a tornado ripped through a trailer park in Florida. More than 1,200 Sunday flights at Charlotte Douglas International were cancelled – more than 90% of the airport’s Sunday schedule, according to the flight tracking service flightaware.com.
Winter Storm Izzy dumped as much as 10 inches of snow in some areas of western North Carolina as the system moved across the southeastern U.S., said Brian Hurley, a meteorologist with the Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.
First Sgt. Christopher Knox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Highway Patrol, said that by midafternoon, the agency had responded to 300 car crashes and nearly 800 calls for service. Two people died Sunday when their car drove off the road and into trees in a median east of Raleigh. The driver and passenger, both 41-year-old South Carolina residents, were pronounced dead at the scene of the single-vehicle crash. Knox said investigators believe the car was driving too fast for the conditions, described as mixed winter precipitation.
Meanwhile, Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette said many roads in the central and western part of the state were covered with ice. He said the eastern part of the state was being hit with high winds and rain.
Kristen Baker Morrow’s 6-year-old son made snow angels after their home in Crouse, North Carolina, got four inches of snow Sunday morning, but she said they couldn’t stay outside long because of the uncomfortable wind chill.
“It took 30 to 45 minutes to get everything on for about 10 minutes in the snow, but it was definitely worth it for him, to get our pictures and make some memories,” said Morrow, a 35-year-old registered nurse.
More than 260,000 customers were without power by midafternoon Sunday, according to poweroutage.us. Especially hard hit was North Carolina, with 90,000 outages. The remaining outages were in Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
The National Weather Service confirmed that a tornado with 118 mph winds struck southwest Florida. The weather service said the tornado was on the ground for almost two miles with a maximum path width of 125 yards. Thirty mobile homes were destroyed and 51 had major damage. Three minor injuries were reported.
The storm system could cause hazardous driving conditions over a large portion of the eastern U.S. through Monday as the wet roadways refreeze in southern states and the storm turns and moves northward through the Mid-Atlantic states and New England.
While not a record-breaking storm in terms of snowfall, the large system could impact a dozen or more states.
At 5:30 pm on Sunday, Randolph Electric reported fewer than 300 members affected by outages in its five-county service territory.
“So far, members in Montgomery, Moore, and Randolph Counties have experienced the most outages, due to the freezing rain and ice build-up on trees,” said Dale Lambert, Randolph Electric CEO.
Earlier Sunday, Randolph Electric reported more than 1,600 members without power as precipitation continued and temperatures remained at or below freezing. Line technicians have worked diligently to restore power in areas impacted by Winter Storm Izzy.
“We are very pleased that the storm did not materialize to the level of ice and wind predicted for our area,” said Lambert. “I’m proud of our employee and contractor team for working quickly to get the lights back on for our members.”
As of 6:30 pm Sunday, Duke energy reported fewer than 70 outages in its Randolph County service area. The state’s largest utility reported more than 16,000 customers without power and it’s Moore County service area
In advance of the storm, Duke Energy strategically staged more than 11,000 workers – power line technicians, damage assessors and vegetation workers – across the Carolinas.
Those workers include Duke Energy crews normally based in Florida, Indiana and Ohio – and mutual assistance crews from other companies in Canada, Texas, Arizona, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Oklahoma and other states – who traveled to the Carolinas to assist North Carolina- and South Carolina-based Duke Energy workers
The National Weather Service warns of possible scattered power outages overnight and through Monday in central North Carolina. Randolph Electric will continue to monitor the forecast. Randolph EMC line technician crews and member service staff will work through Sunday night and Monday to respond to outages.