CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Road conditions across the Charlotte area were dicey after a wintry mix of freezing rain, sleet and snow moved over the Carolinas.
Gov. Roy Cooper and other state leaders gave an update on conditions at noon, with North Carolina Department of Transportation Secretary Eric Boyette urging people to stay off the roads unless travel is absolutely necessary.
"Travel is treacherous across much of our state," Boyette said. "If you do not need to be out, please stay put."
NCDOT says more than 2,000 employees and contract resources are working around the clock statewide to keep roads clear and as safe as possible. The agency says the state has over 1,800 trucks and graders and crews are also equipped with chainsaws to remove any downed trees that fall on highways.
First responders were called to multiple crashes in the Charlotte area early Sunday. Statewide, officials said they'd seen over 200 accident reports. By 11 a.m. Sunday, drivers were getting stuck on I-277 as the highways were packed with ice and sleet.
While temperatures are expected to warm and some thawing is possible, NCDOT says the water on roads will refreeze tonight and make travel dangerous in western and central North Carolina. The storm is bringing heavy rainfall with potential flooding and strong winds to much of eastern North Carolina.
Medic in Mecklenburg County confirmed crews worked more than 30 traffic accidents related to the winter storm.
“Travel conditions are expected to be treacherous for much of the state through Monday,” NCDOT’s Chief Operating Officer Beau Memory said. “Please stay home and don’t take the chance of driving, especially on icy or flooded roads.”
First Warn Chief Meteorologist Brad Panovich said during the weekend Charlotte's roads will only get worse as the sleet changes to freezing rain Sunday afternoon. That freezing rain will combine with the sleet to form a layer of ice that makes roads impassable.
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Jen Thompson with the North Carolina Department of Transportation said crews have been busy clearing the interstates.
"We are busy salting them, plowing where we necessary," Thompson said. "About an inch is what we could possibly plow with if there's something there, but it is an uphill battle."
Thompson said crews can put down brine that will lower the freezing point to the upper teens. She said NCDOT is targeting bridges and overpasses that typically freeze faster.
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"It's a good piece of advice to stay inside," Thompson said. "We hope folks are listening to that advice and staying inside and staying warm and enjoying the time with family."
If you must go out, Thompson said NCDOT crews will typically clear interstate highways first, followed by divided US highways (like U.S. 74) and high-volume secondary roads that connect to primary highways.