Raleigh, N.C. As winter weather and precipitation have moved out of the state and temperatures are rising, road conditions are improving, but motorists should continue to use caution. Icy patches and black ice remain a danger in many areas.
"Unfortunately, the final hours of this storm turned out to be the most deadly," Governor Pat McCrory said. "Despite our preparations and tremendous efforts, five more people have died in winter-weather related incidents."
Two people died last night after a collision with a hit-and-run driver on Interstate 40 in Wake County. The two good samaritans were outside their vehicles helping other motorists when they were struck alongside the highway. The Highway Patrol has charged one driver in that incident.
Additionally, two people in Burke County died Thursday after suffering heart attacks while shoveling snow.
The fifth person to die hit a phone pole after driving on black ice in Charlotte this morning.
Traffic is moving freely on interstates 77 and 74 in Surry County after accidents and jack-knifed trucks caused backups that were quickly inundated by more than a foot of snow. That resulted in standstill conditions yesterday afternoon and evening for many drivers. DOT crews and state troopers worked through the night to clear the interstate while National Guard soldiers helped the drivers stuck in the backup.
"The state was well-prepared, our responders performed admirably and citizens largely heeded our warnings to stay off the roads," said Governor McCrory. "We owe our thanks to all who have worked so hard this week to keep our state safe and to help their neighbors."
Highway Patrol troopers responded to more than 1,800 calls for service across the state yesterday. This week's call total now exceeds 10,500. Troopers typically respond to approximately 800 calls daily. National Guard soldiers, Wildlife officers, Alcohol Law Enforcement agents and DOT roadside assistance patrols have assisted hundreds of other motorists.
By 6 a.m., the utilities reported about 47,800 power outages statewide, mostly in eastern counties.
Ten shelters are open in nine counties. Shelters remain open in Bladen, Columbus, Davie, Gaston, Iredell, Moore, New Hanover, Pender and Surry counties.
The State of Emergency Governor McCrory declared Wednesday remains in effect, enabling him to mobilize any additional resources needed to respond to the storm. It also is the first step in seeking federal funds to help defray the cost of providing emergency services, clearing debris and repairing any damaged public infrastructure. The declaration is executed under the Emergency Management Act. Forty three counties have declared local States of Emergency in response to the storm.
NCDOT reiterates the governor's advice urging motorists to use caution if they plan to travel today. Icy spots are prevalent on roads and bridges where temperatures rose about freezing yesterday afternoon and dropped below freezing overnight, causing any precipitation that melted to turn into black ice. NCDOT crews are actively addressing these areas with salt and sand to help ensure motorist safety.
The department currently has 3,100 NCDOT employees responding to the effects of the winter storm statewide. They are using 1,468 trucks loaded with plows and spreaders and 300 motor graders to clear the roads of snow and ice. Since Monday, crews have put down 35,969 tons of salt and 13,616 tons of salt-sand mix on the roads.
Along the North Carolina coast, roads are clear, with crews in the greater Wilmington area addressing debris removal from thick ice that knocked down trees and power lines earlier this week. In central North Carolina, crews made good progress overnight on interstates and primary routes, and on