COPY-Heavy snow hits foothills, moderate snow falls in Charlotte area

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Christmas snow dumped nearly 10 inches in many areas northwest of Charlotte, including Burke, Caldwell, Catawba, Alexander and Iredell counties.

Snow held off in Charlotte until Christmas night, but enough eventually fell with about 3 inches in most of Charlotte by Sunday morning. Even South Carolina areas were not spared of snow -- with at least an inch falling in counties just south of Charlotte.

 The Christmas snow was not as devastating as had been warned -- few folks lost power, although there were some reports of heavy snow downing tree limbs.

The most serious issue appeared to be with roadways, which were left with several inches of snow on secondary roads. Main highways had some snow, but were passable with caution.

In Charlotte, 26 wrecks were reported overnight and one person died in a single-car wreck with a tree on I-85 overnight.

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Most of the snow fell in a band of counties in the foothills, where snow that was supposed to make its way down to Charlotte was held up. That lead to extremely high snow totals, with many areas receiving at least 8 inches.

Snow was forecast to start in Charlotte on Christmas morning, but it didn't actually start until about 7 pm after being preceded by rain. Eventually, about 3 inches was reported in most areas of Charlotte.

In the fatal wreck on I-85, officials said it happened around 3:30 am when a driver lost control of a car and hit a tree near Mallard Creek and WT Harris roads. The passenger in the car, a woman, died, authorities said.

The NC Highway Patrol believes weather and alcohol may have both been factors in the crash.

By 4 pm on Christmas Day, 4 inches of snow had already fallen in Morganton in Burke County and similar amounts were seen along the I-40 corridor. WBTV's Steve Ohnesorge reported an inch of snow in Morganton as early as 10:30 am.

The N.C. Department of Transportation spread a salt/brine solution on major roads in our area Thursday night and Friday morning.  The Charlotte Department of Transportation pretreated bridges in Charlotte before that.

Employees with both the state and city are on-call Christmas day to come in and salt the roads if the snow makes it necessary.

If you will be driving on the road, you're asked to maintain a safe distance behind snow plows and salt spreaders to give workers ample room.

The N.C. State Highway Patrol already has additional troopers on call to assist motorists who may become stranded or involved in wrecks caused by the snow this weekend.

The state Emergency Management urges residents to be mindful of the following winter safety tips:

  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
  • Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators OUTSIDE and away from any open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Also, do not burn charcoal indoors. Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from charcoal fumes indoors.
  • Keep fresh batteries on hand to use with flashlights and weather radios.
  • Always keep a three to seven-day supply of non-perishable food in your home.
  • Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing to stay warm. You will be warmer and, as the temperature changes, you can easily remove layers to remain comfortable.
  • If you must travel during a winter storm, store an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: blankets, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries, a first aid kit, a flashlight with extra batteries, battery booster cables and flares, a tire repair kit and pump, a road map, a sack of cat litter (for tire traction), a tow rope, bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, extra clothing to keep dry, and a windshield scraper and brush.

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