ROCKINGHAM — Forecasters are now expecting twice as much snow for Richmond County on Wednesday as originally predicted.
Maps included in a Tuesday afternoon weather briefing from the National Weather Service in Raleigh show the snowfall totals ranging from 1 to 4 inches, with the “most likely” accumulation listed as 2 to 3 inches.
All of central North Carolina was placed under a winter storm warning effective from 11 p.m. Tuesday night until 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Drivers are encouraged to keep a flashlight, food and water in their vehicles in case of emergency.
Meteorologists said the leading edge of the precipitation shield would be moving into the area between 3 and 5 a.m., possibly beginning as rain, but quickly changing over to snow by 10 a.m.
Heavy to moderate snowfall was expected, which could make travel conditions difficult.
Anticipating those difficulties, Richmond County Schools issued a two-hour delay for Wednesday. Public Information Officer Briana Goins said in an email that school leaders would reassess conditions Wednesday morning “in case school has to be cancelled.”
Schools closed early Tuesday from the Tennessee border to Asheville ahead of the rush of snow and cold, the Associated Press reported.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a statewide emergency Tuesday to allow him to deploy resources ahead of trouble.
Snow was expected to be falling in most areas west of Interstate 95 by late morning, as the system moves east toward the coast, tapering off in the late afternoon.
Following the snow, temperatures are expected to drop, with overnight lows dipping into the teens and wind chills near 10 degrees.
The combination of precipitation and subfreezing temps increases the likelihood of black ice — especially on secondary roads. Even though a gradual warm-up is forecast as the week goes on, black ice could also be possible Friday morning, according to the NWS.
This system of winter weather comes two weeks after a storm dumped 2 to 6 inches of snow across the eastern half of the state. Subfreezing temperatures kept the snow and ice from melting quickly, and caused many water pipes to burst.
An updated weather briefing was scheduled after press time.