CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Power outages dwindled while travel remained treacherous Friday as more people tried to get to work or just out of the house on day three of a winter storm in North Carolina.
State officials advised drivers to be cautious because black ice posed the next threat. "You think you're fine, you're zipping along, and you hit an icy patch," said Julia Jarema, spokeswoman for the state emergency operations center. "Suddenly, you're in a ditch. We need people to be careful and let the ice start melting."
The state Highway Patrol had received almost 200 calls between midnight and 7 a.m. Friday, she said. That number doesn't include calls for help that went to local law enforcement agencies.
A winter weather advisory was in effect in the mountains and much of central North Carolina until Friday morning. Forecasters warned of dangerous driving conditions from Asheville to Charlotte, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Durham, Raleigh and Fayetteville.
While ice continues to make travel hazardous, staying at home isn't much better for a large number of residents.
About 47,800 power outages remained Friday morning in North Carolina, down from the 133,000 outages reported Thursday afternoon, Jarema said. Of those Friday outages, 41,000 were in eastern North Carolina, where ice was a bigger problem than snow.
Snowfall totals ranged from 12 to 14 inches in northwestern North Carolina, with 14 inches also falling in Statesville, said meteorologist Nick Petro of the National Weather Service in Raleigh. South of Statesville, Charlotte reported 7 inches. In the Triad area of Winston-Salem, Greensboro and High Point, totals were generally in the 4- to 6-inch range with 7 to 8 inches in some locations. About 4 inches to 6 inches fell in the Triangle area of Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, he said.
While the storm caused plenty of problems, it's not historic, he said. "It wouldn't make the top 10 in terms of snowfall," Petro said, adding that it will take a few days for streets to clear completely, as temperatures rise during the day and fall at night, causing melted snow to refreeze.
Officials attributed three deaths to the storm, including a Pender County man who died Wednesday when a tree limb broke off an ice-covered tree and struck him outside his home in a mobile home park in Rocky Point. Two people also died in traffic accidents in Moore and Chatham counties.
Follow Martha Waggoner at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc
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