The National Weather Service this morning says confidence has increased that parts of eastern North Carolina could see four to six inches of snow overnight as a coastal storm churns through.
Meanwhile, schools across the entire region have already announced there will be no classes on Friday.
“Confidence and snow totals have increased,” said meteorologist Shane Kearns with the NWS Newport/Morehead City forecast office. “Additionally, other hazards are expected including minor coastal flooding across the southern Pamlico Sound, and strong winds along the coast gusting to 40-50 mph.”
Winter storm warnings are in effect for Currituck County and Hampton Roads, where snow began falling late Thursday afternoon. A winter weather advisory begins at midnight for Duck, Kitty Hawk, Kill Devil Hills, Nags Head and Manteo. Snow accumulations of up to an inch are expected with wind gusts as high as 45 mph.
The weather service advises to plan on slippery road conditions impacting the morning commute.
A wind advisory begins at 7 p.m. Thursday for the northern Outer Banks, Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. Sustained north winds of 30 to 40 mph with gusts up to 50 mph are expected.
Forecasters say rainfall will transition to a wintry mix, and then to all snow for much of eastern North Carolina Thursday evening through Friday morning as low pressure strengthens off the coas
The heaviest snow will fall through the overnight hours, with potential banding leading to locally higher amounts.
State transportation crews were making advanced preparations on Thursday, according to a news release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.
However, NCDOT crews did not pre-treat roads due to the rain that has arrived ahead of the changeover.
Salt stocks, supplies and equipment, such as snowplows and salt spreaders, are ready to prepare and respond to snow and ice. Additionally, crew schedules are being adjusted to meet local needs, the governor’s office said.
Most school systems operated on early release schedules and called off after-school activities for Thursday prior to the arrival of precipitation.
DCS will be closed on Friday, February 21, due to inclement weather. Stay safe.
— Dare County Schools (@Daretolearn_DCS) February 20, 2020
Currituck County Schools will be closed tomorrow, Friday, February 21st for students. An Optional Teacher Workday has been declared for staff on a 3 hour delay. We will continue to monitor conditions and notify staff of any further changes. Thank you and be safe! pic.twitter.com/OmPpSDQO4S
— Currituck County Schools (@CurrituckK12) February 21, 2020
Trash carts on Nags Head’s Blue Sanitation Route were emptied Thursday morning in case bad weather made it too dangerous to empty the carts on the usual Friday schedule.
Farther north, tolls along the Chesapeake Expressway are being suspended for the night.
TOLL UPDATE: For the safety of toll facility employees, tolls will be suspended on the Chesapeake Expressway from 7 p.m. tonight, Feb. 20, to 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 21. Tolls at the Dominion Blvd Veterans Bridge will NOT be suspended at this time.
— City of Chesapeake (@AboutChesapeake) February 20, 2020
Inland areas were already seeing a coating of snow well before sunset, with some locations expected to see the highest snowfall totals of anywhere in the state.
Snow will gradually taper off from west to east early Friday morning as the low moves further off the coast.
Where snow accumulates, travel will quickly become hazardous Thursday evening, the weather service said.
For Currituck County and areas west of the sounds, temperatures will fall below freezing Thursday night and remain below freezing through late Friday morning.
Big surf, high winds and some sound-side flooding will accompany the nor’easter, the weather service said.
“Again, while snow gets the burden of media attention, coastal flooding and high winds may be more impactful for those along the coast instead of the snow,” Simms said.
A gale warning has been posted for the sounds and ocean for Thursday night and Friday. High tides will make travel to the four-wheel drive area north of Corolla treacherous at times.
Wind gusts as high as 50 mph are possible along the Outer Banks and may lead to scattered power outages and limbs down.