Raleigh - While road conditions are improving and power is being restored across much of North Carolina, Governor Pat McCrory urged residents to remain cautious as they venture out.
"Rising temperatures and sunshine are the best types of help we could ask for our transportation and utility crews who have worked so hard throughout this storm," said Governor McCrory. "We know people are anxious to resume their routines, but there are still slick spots out there; we want people to be careful and safe."
The latest forecast calls for clear skies and sunshine across all North Carolina Sunday with high temperatures ranging from mid 30s to mid 40s. No more precipitation is expected for the next few days, but overnight temperatures are expected to drop to down into the teens to mid 20s causing refreezing and black ice for the Monday morning commute.
Governor McCrory thanked North Carolinians for taking the storm seriously and exercising caution and good judgment. He also praised emergency management crews, law enforcement officers, first responders, utility crews and transportation workers and their families for their tireless work throughout the storm.
"My deepest gratitude goes to our first responders, National Guard members, utility workers, North Carolina Emergency Management and DOT workers for their selfless and dedicated work to keep their fellow citizens safe," Governor McCrory said.
Early Saturday morning, State Trooper R.P. Charubini while on patrol in China Grove was injured by two individuals driving all-terrain vehicles on a highway. When the trooper tried to warn the four wheeler operators to get off the road, they charged the officer injuring him. The trooper has been treated for his non-life threatening injuries. The North Carolina Troopers Association is offering a $1,000 cash reward for information leading directly to the capture and arrest of the two suspects. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Highway Patrol at 800-233-3151.
"This attitude and behavior towards any of our law enforcement officers or first responders is abysmal and inexcusable," said Governor McCrory." They left their families at home and in many cases put themselves in harm's way so that we could be safe. And they deserve our respect and appreciation."
The State Highway Patrol has responded to more than 4,600 calls for assistance and investigated more than 2,400 crashes since the storm began. Six people have died since Wednesday when the winter weather began; all were the result of vehicle crashes.
Power outages continue to decline. By mid-morning, 51,000 homes still had no power with most of those in Wake, Johnston and Harnett counties. During the course of the storm, more than 472,000 have lost power, but already power has been restored to more than 419,000 homes and businesses.
Three shelters were opened overnight (one each in Wake, Johnston and Nash counties) housing a total of 66 occupants. Several other shelters were on standby and prepared to open as needed.
Since the storm began, NCDOT crews placed nearly 2.2 million gallons of salt brine in an effort to help prevent ice from bonding to the roadway. They also have used more than 52,000 tons of salt and more than 15,000 tons of salt-sand mixture to treat roads covered with snow and ice.
Law enforcement officers from N.C. Wildlife Resources and DMV License and Theft have been working along with National Guard soldiers in winter catch teams to help locate and assist stranded motorists. With road conditions improving, those teams will return to their normal duties today.
The latest storm response and recovery efforts can be found on ReadyNC.org or by following NC Emergency on Facebook and Twitter. Real-time information about weather and road conditions and other emergency preparedness actions can be found via the free ReadyNC mobile app.