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Thursday update – The winter storm warning in effect for the area was cancelled as of 9 a.m.
The National Weather Service reports it expects a light wintry mix later today, mainly across inland counties as the storm system makes its way out of the region.
Winds today could include gusts of up to 30 mph, increasing potential for additional downed tree limbs and power lines that could result in additional power outages and roads being blocked.
Temperatures are expected to increase gradually into the weekend, with temperatures reaching the mid-50s on Friday and nearing 60 on Sunday. Freezing conditions at night remain possible farther inland, while coastal areas should see lows in the 30s tonight and on Friday and Saturday nights. A chance of some rain showers is forecast Friday night.
Update 6:50 p.m. – Emergency managers across southeastern North Carolina, including the tri-county area here, have issued an emergency statement “urging people to stay off the roadways and remain at home tonight if at all possible.”
That’s unless residents need to seek shelter elsewhere.
Click here for information about shelters in this area.
The statement notes numerous traffic accidents with injuries, and one fatality outside of this area, per the winter conditions. Power lines may continue to fall or break under heavy, collapsing limbs.
“With temperatures rising to above freezing in some areas this evening and tonight, melting sheets of ice falling off homes and buildings will be a hazard,” the statement warns.
According to the National Weather Service, Wilmington’s low tonight will be 33. Thursday’s forecast includes a high of 43.
The emergency statement adds that carbon monoxide poisoning can occur with generators placed too close to homes or businesses and not properly ventilated.
“Candles are not recommended as a substitute for flashlights due to the increased risk of fires,” emergency managers said.
Power outage numbers continued to fluctuate Wednesday evening, with Duke Energy Progress reporting 40,355 at the time of this report. Its service area in northern Brunswick County saw a bit less than 4,300 customers affected.
Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation customer outage counts were oscillating between 9,000 and 13,000 over various spots of the county.
In Pender County, 4,270 Duke customers were affected.
Duke said outages in parts of its broad service area may be “multi-day,” though it has beefed up on response crews.
“If you have to be on the road, please give our crews and other first responders plenty of room,” said Jeff Corbett, senior vice president of Duke Energy’s Carolinas delivery operations. “We want them to be safe while they work.”
Update 6:40 p.m. – The City of Wilmington says its crews have been working to clear roads of debris since early this morning.
“Crews have cleared all major roads at this time and will have a crew on standby tonight if any major streets need to be cleared,” the city reported. “They will be back on duty first thing tomorrow morning with extra crews to concentrate on clearing additional roadways.
“Storm debris will be left by the roadside until later when solid waste crews can pick it up,” the bulletin continued. “Similarly, solid waste crews will not begin to pick up yard waste until next week so that customers have the opportunity to clean up this weekend.”
The city emphasized that residents should not call 911 to report downed trees, power line issues or flooding.
Residents should call 341-7852 about trees or limbs blocking roadways in city limits; and 341-4646 about flooding or other stormwater issues in the city limits.
Additional safety information from the city is available here.
Update 4 p.m. – Low-hanging trees weighed down by ice continue to plague the Wilmington area.
At the former Cape Fear Hospital, now New Hanover Regional Medical Center Orthopedic Hospital, trees were hindering EMS access to the facility on Wrightsville Avenue, prompting an advisory on 911 dispatch. Responders were advised to access the hospital via Hawthorne Drive.
Downed power lines and tree limbs in roadways were also a common call-in for responders.
A 3 p.m. briefing from the National Weather Service emphasized that freezing rain has caused extremely dangerous icing that has resulted in treacherous road conditions, particularly in inland areas.
“In addition, downed limbs and trees have caused roads to become blocked and they have created widespread power outages as they fall onto power lines,” the weather service said. “The power outages may be lengthy in some areas until the power infrastructure has been restored. Trees/limbs will continue fall causing additional impacts, especially those areas that remain at or below freezing through the afternoon.”
Precipitation is expected to become light overnight, ranging from a drizzle along coastal areas to a freezing drizzle further inland. Significant accumulation is not expected as the storm heads out of the area.
Residents are advised that slips and falls are likely given the accumulating ice, and anyone outside needs to be wary of falling limbs and ice. The public is urged to stay indoors, off roadways and away from wooded areas.
More flights at Wilmington International Airport have been cancelled, including Delta flight 4955 departing Wilmington to Atlanta at 5:55 p.m. Delta flight 6212 arriving in Wilmington from LaGuardia at 11:30 p.m. has also been cancelled.
Flights 2864 from Charlotte at 10:03 p.m. and 4063 from Philadelphia at 10:58 p.m. arriving from Wilmington are currently on schedule. All Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., flights scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, have been cancelled.
Update 2:45 p.m. – Power utilities in the tri-county area are reporting more than 75,000 customers affected by the winter storm.
According to Duke Energy Progress, more than 50,000 customers are affected in New Hanover County. The utility’s Brunswick County service area lists 5,735 customers without power. For essentially the rest of Brunswick County, served by Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation, an outage map ticked beyond 13,000 affected customers.
Duke also reported more than 7,400 in Pender County.
The utilities were at work assessing damage and resolving outages.
Update 1:20 p.m. – Wilmington International Airport issued the following:
“Due to the winter storm advisory, the only flights still currently operating are Delta flight 4955 departing Wilmington to Atlanta at 5:55 p.m. and Delta flight 6212 arriving in Wilmington from LaGuardia at 11:30 p.m.
“All Philadelphia and Washington D.C. flights scheduled for February 13th have been cancelled.”
Update 12:20 p.m. – New Hanover and Brunswick counties have declared a state of emergency, according to their respective spokespersons.
Pender County had declared a state of emergency Tuesday afternoon, according to a press release.
Update 11:30 a.m. – Wilmington police are reporting the Bradley Creek Bridge has reopened following a wreck this morning.
In New Hanover County, power outages are affecting more than 32,600 customers, according to Duke Energy Progress. Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation’s service area in Brunswick County was at nearly 11,000 customer outages.
Update 11 a.m. – Power outage numbers were increasing, with report maps indicating thousands upon thousands of customers affected in Brunswick and New Hanover counties, respectively.
Duke Energy Progress indicated nearly 25,000 customers affected in New Hanover County and another 3,400 in its service area in northern Brunswick County. Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation was reporting nearly 9,000 customers affected in the remainder of Brunswick County. In Pender County, Duke was reporting 2,300 affected.
Emergency communications were steady with reports of downed power lines.
Utilities indicated they were assessing damages.
New Hanover, Brunswick and coastal Pender counties remain under a winter storm warning until 9 p.m. today.
Update 9:55 a.m. Wednesday – The Wilmington Police Department is reporting the Bradley Creek Bridge on Oleander Drive is closed due to a traffic incident. Motorists should use an alternate route.
Update 9:27 a.m. Wednesday – Power outages persist as ice continues to accumulate on power lines and over-crossing tree branches. Outage maps from Duke Energy Progress and Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (BEMC) showed thousands of customers affected.
In New Hanover and northern Brunswick counties, Duke Energy Progress was assessing damage around most of the locales out of power. For those it had already assessed, it figured a 6 p.m. fix.
In Brunswick County, more than 1,000 were powerless around the Southport area, according to a BEMC map. Several others spread along the U.S. 17 corridor were also without power.
Update 6 a.m. Wednesday – New Hanover, Brunswick and coastal Pender counties remain under a winter storm warning until 9 p.m. today.
According to the National Weather Service (NWS) 5:30 a.m. briefing, icy rain and sleet will create dangerous driving conditions throughout the Cape Fear region.
“Significant icing as a result of the accretion of freezing rain is very likely, especially across interior coastal sections and the Pee Dee,” the NWS bulletin states. “The freezing rain will create dangerous driving conditions. In addition, widespread power outages are very likely in the areas projected to receive the heaviest icing. Limbs will snap from the weight of the freezing rain and fall onto power lines.
“Slips and falls are also very likely given the accumulating ice.”
Thousands of Duke Energy Progress customers in the Cape Fear were without power Wednesday morning.
Update 5 p.m. – The City of Wilmington has placed salt or brine on all of the primary streets and bridges in its jurisdiction, according to a bulletin Tuesday afternoon.
“City streets crews have salt/brine spreader trucks and snow plows ready to deploy, should they be necessary,” it said. “Traffic, stormwater and streets personnel will be on-call to respond as needed, in addition to public safety staff.
“The North Carolina Department of Transportation will be responsible for maintenance of major roads such as Market Street and College Road.”
Officials are advising caution on all roadways.
Meanwhile, Duke Energy Progress still had a number of power outages to address in New Hanover and Brunswick counties. An outage map showed thousands of customers affected in various areas. They included nearly 3,300 west of South Kerr Avenue and north of Randall Parkway in Wilmington, and more than 1,780 in the vicinity of Lanvale Road, south of the Old Fayetteville Road intersection in Leland.
Freezing rain is accumulating on trees and branches, noted the National Weather Service in Wilmington. Up to a quarter-inch of freezing rain can break tree limbs, the service said. Downed trees and lines can lead to extended periods without power.
Update 2:30 p.m. – Thousands of power outages have been reported in parts of New Hanover County, according to Duke Energy Progress, though the numbers were changing rapidly Tuesday afternoon as crews assessed the situations and administered repairs.
An outage map showed 1,115 customers affected on the south side of South 17th Street, southeast of George Anderson Drive. The utility had estimated restoration at 4 p.m.
In an area northwest of the intersection of Shipyard and Independence boulevards were 1,373 customers affected. Duke estimated a 3:45 p.m. fix.
West of Mayfaire Town Center were 238 listed without power; the utility also estimated a 3:30 p.m. fix there.
Smaller outage clusters elsewhere dotted the map.
“Our crews will work as quickly and safely as possible to complete restorations,” Jeff Corbett, senior vice president of Duke Energy’s Carolinas delivery operations, said in a press release.
Cold rain, followed by some sleet, is expected across the Cape Fear region Tuesday morning as a second winter storm rolls into southeast North Carolina and northeast South Carolina.
According to the latest information from the National Weather Service, New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties will continue to see rain throughout the day, with sleet mixing in and increasing in the afternoon.
Little or no accumulation is anticipated here today, but inland areas could see that accumulation by tonight and into Wednesday morning. Coastal regions will likely miss the snowfall predicted for the Piedmont area and western portions of the state.
A winter weather warning (upgraded from a previous advisory) is in effect for Brunswick, New Hanover and coastal Pender counties.
Check back throughout the day for the latest updates from the National Weather Service.