With most of Wake County hunkered down in anticipation of a 3-6 inch snowstorm Tuesday night, the official 1.4 inches of powdery snow which blanketed the Triangle came as a disappointment to many.
However, lows below 20 degrees on both Wednesday and Thursday night allowed melted snow to refreeze as dangerous black ice, prompting horrific driving conditions and keeping students throughout the county stuck at home.
The Wake County Public School System cancelled school for all ages Tuesday through Friday.
“Forecasters originally said the first flakes would arrive midday Tuesday, prompting Wake County schools to call off classes for the day,” reported Bruce Siceloff of the News & Observer. “But Raleigh didn’t see snow until after dark. The National Weather Service said drier-than-expected arctic air ate up the moisture that was supposed to power the snow, throwing off computer models used by forecasters.”
N.C. Governor Pat McCrory declared a weather State of Emergency for the entire week. “We want to make sure people continue to be safe and use sound judgment as to whether or not they have to get on these roads during these continued difficult conditions throughout North Carolina,” he said in a statement to reporters on Thursday.
Many who grumbled about Tuesday’s cancellation were again upset about Friday’s day off; most major roads throughout the county, including Leesville Rd. and O’Neal Rd., were fully cleared and, for the most part, completely dry. Nonetheless, WCPSS noted (via Facebook) that the decision came after “extensive staff evaluation of secondary and neighborhood road conditions, especially in outlying areas,” where snowplows had not visited.
Some took to Twitter on Friday to share photos of the dangerous road conditions that remain:
Leesville students will attend school for snow make-up days on Monday, Feb. 17, Friday, Mar. 28 and Monday, Apr. 21. A fourth make-up day has, as of Friday afternoon, not yet been announced. The new school days will take away the fourth day of two long weekends and the third of another, but will not cut into Spring Break.
Extra precautions in both cancellations and road treatments were taken this year as a result of a January 2005 debacle. In that incident, Wake County received an unexpected inch of snow with temperatures hovering only around freezing, turning many roads to ice and causing seven-hour traffic delays in downtown Raleigh. Some students were stuck at school overnight.
Leesville students and staff should fully expect to return to school Monday, as second semester will resume again on just its fifth day. For classes preparing for AP exams—which are not delayed—later in the spring, a busy few months of time-packed lessons are likely just around the corner.