WINSTON-SALEM, North Carolina — One day after North Carolina was surprised with widespread snow, a second system was barreling toward the state Wednesday with the prospect of even more wintry precipitation.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather warning for the southwestern corner of the state. That region awakened Wednesday under a winter weather advisory for the potential for black ice on local roads. While the black ice was expected to melt during the day, more winter weather was on its heels.
Forecasters also issued a winter weather watch for the eastern two-thirds of the state, with the exception of Brunswick, New Hanover and Onslow counties, where an ice storm warning is in effect.
The winter weather warning for the mountain counties calls for between 3 and 6 inches of snow and treacherous driving conditions across the southwest mountains. Some areas could get up to 8 inches.
To the east, the winter weather watch stretched from the foothills to the North Carolina coast. Up to 6 inches of snow was expected in the Research Triangle area, the coastal plain and the northern piedmont. Forecasters said some places could get more.
"All of the precipitation, it appears, with this second system coming in will be after dark" Wednesday night, National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Badgett said. "So, most everybody should be home, and have heard there is going to be a fair amount of wintry precipitation."
Badgett said the bulk of the snow was expected to fall along the Interstate 40 corridor from Asheville to the Triad to the Research Triangle area, and north of that.
The latest storm follows a Tuesday storm that caught much of North Carolina by surprise. That storm closed schools and businesses and caused icy roads that led to hundreds of collisions. That storm came just days after an ice storm.
Forecasters learned late Monday night that the Tuesday storm would be bigger than expected, but weather service meteorologist Kathleen Carroll said people were asleep, so the storm hit people without a lot of advance warning.
Snowfall amounts ranged from 1-2 inches in the Raleigh and Greensboro areas and up to 6 inches in the foothills and mountains. The next storm could bring another 3 inches to 6 inches across most of the state.
Authorities attributed two deaths, both in car accidents, to snow-covered roads and to drivers exceeding safe speeds for conditions.
The weather has created a variety of situations across the state:
This February could go down as one of the coldest ever in the Raleigh-Durham area, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Phil Badgett.
"We're on pace to have like the fourth of fifth coldest February, I guess, on record," Badgett said. "It would probably be in the top 10 for Greensboro, too."
Badgett noted there have been four days where temperatures lingered in the 20s through the day, whereas nighttime lows for the month average in the 20s and 30s. He said for highs to be in the 20s and 30s is "pretty unusual."
He said the recent spell of winter storms is also a little unusual since the storms generally occur in December and January.
Snow keeps interrupting John Muzzey's love of basketball.
The Wilmington man was not among the crowd at the Smith Center Tuesday night when the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill faced North Carolina State University in a rivalry game. Last year, his wife, Kathy Davies Muzzey, hid the car keys from her husband so he wouldn't drive to Chapel Hill for the Tar Heels' game against Duke University in February. That game was postponed.
This time, John Muzzey told his wife that he had had an extra set of car keys made so she couldn't stop him. "If there's a threat from now, he told me he's going the night before, especially if it's Duke or Kentucky," she said.
Instead, Muzzey backed down and emailed the tickets to someone who lives in Cary.
LAWMAKERS SNOWED OUT
The legislature just can't seem to buy a break.
Last week's snow and ice curtailed work for the House and Senate.
With one snow event Tuesday and another expected to arrive late Wednesday, House Speaker Tim Moore essentially called it quits for this week, too. The chamber passed one local bill on fox trapping Tuesday and shut down committees and floor sessions slated for Wednesday and Thursday, the traditional end of the legislative week.
"It's been very frustrating. The weather just isn't cooperating and we really don't want folks driving in this mess," Moore told reporters. "It's just not safe."
The Senate has been more willing to ride out wintry weather by working inside the Legislative Building. Senators prepared for debate on two substantial bills Wednesday morning. There was no immediate word on Thursday's plans.