- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Schools canceled activities and announced delays to the start of classes on Tuesday in advance of a storm that could dump frozen precipitation on areas in North Carolina.

A map compiled by the National Weather Service shows most of the state east of the mountains is under some type of watch or advisory. Weather service meteorologist Ryan Ellis said the U.S. 1 corridor and east to the Interstate 95 corridor could see the worst of it.

“The cold air is coming down from the north, the precipitation is coming up from the south,” Ellis said. “So, where the two mix is where you’re going to have your sweet spot for the most ice accumulation. At this time, that appears to be kind of an area from Rocky Mount, over to Raleigh down into the Sanford area, Southern Pines area.”

Ellis said the affected area, which is under a winter weather advisory, could get from a trace up to one-tenth of an inch of ice with trace amounts of sleet.

“A tenth of an inch on the roads will certainly cause problems for motorists, especially during the morning commute (Wednesday) because the temperatures are not going to rise back above freezing until after 10 o’clock in the morning,” Ellis said, adding that he doesn’t expect significant power outages or toppled trees with the storm.

Some school systems in the impact area canceled activities scheduled for Tuesday night and many systems announced the start of Wednesday classes would be delayed by two hours. Avery County Schools in western North Carolina dismissed classes early on Tuesday.

There will be more rain to the south and east, but temperatures won’t dip low enough to create ice. To the north, Ellis said it will be plenty cold, but there won’t be any precipitation to go with it.

Forecasters say a light accumulation of ice is expected in the mountains. Areas of freezing drizzle were expected on Tuesday across the northern mountains. A freezing rain advisory is posted for a portion of the mountains from the Balsams to the Black Mountains and southern foothills. The advisory is also in effect for the Charlotte area. In each instance, light accumulations are expected.

A winter weather advisory is posted north of Interstate 40 in western and piedmont North Carolina, as well as the sandhills.

The N.C. Department of Transportation says it has maintenance crews on standby to deal with frozen precipitation. Because the winter weather reached the state as rain, road crews held off from brining highways. Instead, crews will be putting down salt on bridges, overpasses and some roadways. Night crews were expected to start treating roads at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and officials said full crews will be in before Wednesday morning rush hour, if needed.

Public safety officials are urging residents and visitors to monitor local weather conditions and use caution when driving.

“Our main concern with this storm is difficult travel conditions overnight and Wednesday morning,” said Public Safety Secretary Frank L. Perry. “Don’t take any unnecessary risks and use extra caution if you are driving.”

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