North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged residents Thursday to stay off roadways in the wake of the winter storm that dumped a foot of snow in parts of the state Wednesday.
Officials had just learned of the first fatal vehicle accident related to the storm, which claimed the life of a driver who ran off the road in Washington County.
“This is not the day to learn to drive in the snow,” Cooper said, noting that even recently retired NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. had difficulties attempting to drive in Winter Storm Inga’s snow. “The snow is beautiful, but the roads are treacherous. Do not drive unless you absolutely have to.”
A state of emergency remains in effect in North Carolina until further notice, Cooper said from the State Emergency Operations Center.
Though high temperatures are expected to rise above freezing Thursday and Friday, officials noted that the lows at night will reinforce the threat of ice on roadways.
“Anticipate roads over the next day, into tomorrow, that may look clear today, may freeze over again tomorrow,” said Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon.
State troopers had responded to about 3,500 calls for help, more than 2,000 of which were collisions, by 10 a.m. Thursday.
Cooper also noted about half the state’s power outages were in Chatham County (about 4,000 as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday). “We expect those outage numbers to drop during the day,” he said.
The adverse weather policy remains in effect for state employees, Cooper said.
The governor asked for patience as crews work to make roads passable again, working their way from primary to secondary roads.
“It’s cold out there, and it’s very difficult to get to all of the roads immediately,” Cooper said. “We can expect roads to be slick again tomorrow morning and possibly even Saturday morning.”
After tabling a response to one question on Raleigh being named one of 20 finalists for locating Amazon’s second North American headquarters, Cooper responded to another about people planning to attend the Wake Forest at N.C. State men’s basketball game that was still on for Thursday.
“My advice, if they don’t cancel this game, would be to watch it on TV, listen to it on the radio, online,” Cooper said. “That’s the most comfortable place to watch it, anyway.”
The latest road conditions can be found at drivenc.gov.
Officials also encourage people to download the ReadyNC mobile app, a free emergency preparedness tool created by the N.C. Department of Public Safety and North Carolina Emergency Management.