Durham, Orange County schools dismiss two hours early due to snow

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— A change in the forecast models used to predict this weekend’s potential snow moved up the timing of event but didn’t alter the storm’s potential.

Most towns around the Triangle still have the chance to see 5 to 7 inches of snow from Friday night into Saturday. Counties to the north and east of Raleigh could get even more, and once that snow falls, it could be here for a while.

“It looks like once we get below freezing this evening then temperatures stay below freezing until Tuesday,” said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. “That’s why I’m saying whatever falls here is going to stick around for a while. Roads are going to be messy for several days.”

Over Thursday night, the forecast models pushed the start of precipitation earlier in the day. Some of the earliest precipitation could begin after lunchtime and in the early afternoon, but it will still be too warm to fall as snow.

As the temperatures start to drop overnight, though, the rain will change to snow, especially in the Triangle area and counties to the north. Road conditions won’t start to deteriorate until around 10 p.m. or midnight, Gardner said, when that change happens.

Despite the flip around the Triangle, though, counties in the south might not see the same switch to snow.

“More rain and sleet down south,” Gardner said. “Meaning by the time we change over, there may not be as much snow that actually accumulates down south around Fayetteville and particularly Clinton.”

Winter Storm Warning, Jan. 6, 2017

Winter weather advisories still blanket most counties in central and eastern North Carolina. A handful of schools, including Wake County Public Schools and Durham Public Schools, already canceled after-school and weekend activities.

DPS and Orange County Schools announced they would dismiss students two hours early on Friday ahead of the snow.

Likewise, organizers of Gov. Roy Cooper’s inauguration planned for Saturday canceled the event due to the potential for snow. The inauguration parade was canceled earlier in the week, and it’s unclear when the events will be rescheduled.

Officials at Raleigh-Durham International Airport said Friday that crews will be working 12-hour shifts in an effort to keep one runway open.

Temperatures on Saturday will drop to a high of 28, but wind chills will make the air feel even more biting. The real cold will arrive on Sunday and Monday when the low temperature will be 9 and 0 degrees, respectively.

Wind chill for Jan. 7, 2017

Download the WRAL News and WRAL Weather apps or check the latest Weather Alerts to get the most up-to-date information about this weekend’s snow.

A special thank you to our friends at WRAL for helping out with this post.