Snow falls across coastal North Carolina, Virginia •Umbrellas are out in downtown Norfolk, Va., as a snow rain mix begins to fall Thursday afternoon, Feb. 20, 2020. Parts of Chesapeake could get 4 or 5 inches, while Norfolk is forecast to get 3 or 4 inches. Farther north, on the Peninsula, the predicted amounts have slightly decreased to 1 or 2 inches, according to the National Weather Service. (L. Todd Spencer/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Snow was falling Thursday across North Carolina and Virginia, including in coastal areas that rarely see snow.Gov. Roy Cooper said parts of northeastern North Carolina will see the most precipitation in the state, with as much as 3-6 inches (7.5-15 centimeters). He issued a warning that, “Whiteout conditions are possible along the coast due to heavy snow and gusty winds.””The state is getting ready, and everyone else should too,” Cooper said, adding that “it’s going to get colder and this winter storm will affect most parts of North Carolina.”Early in-person voting sites in dozens of North Carolina’s 100 counties closed early on Thursday. Many voting sites were expected to have limited hours or to be closed on Friday, according to the State Board of Elections. Early voting for the March 3 primary ends Feb. 29.In Virginia, the National Weather Service reported that snow was sticking in places like Suffolk near the coast. The weather service said in tweets that much of southeast Virginia looks “like a winter wonderland,” but also cautioned that driving could be dangerous.
A quick-hitting storm painted a wintry scene across the Carolinas on Thursday, spreading snow across some of the region’s largest cities. Richmond, Virginia; Raleigh, North Carolina; Greenville, South Carolina; and even some of the mountainous areas of northern Georgia all were all covered in a blanket of snow the the time the sun had set.
As the last measurable snowfall in much of North Carolina stood at 437 days, this storm brought an end to the snow drought across the state. The last time North Carolina received extensive snowfall, hundreds of accidents swept the state, thousands of power outages left the state in the dark and three fatalities were tied to the storm.
While the state had started to prepare for the worst several days ahead of the storm, the wintry weather still caused disruptions to daily activities and left some in the dark with more than 25,000 customers without power as of 9 p.m. Thursday, according to PowerOutage.US.
The inclement weather also lead to the early closing of Mecklenburg County Board of Elections early voting sites and other county-sponsored evening programs.
Glenn McNeill, commander of the State Highway Patrol, urged people earlier on Thursday to stay off the streets come dusk.
„Troopers have been positioned mobile in moments notice in the areas we expect heavy snowfall accumulation,” McNeill said. „Avoid traveling if at all possible.”
A few reports have trickled in from North Carolina on car wrecks, though there have been no reported injuries or fatalities.
Air travel was also put on hold. Despite deicing efforts at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, 230 flights at the airport have been canceled and another 368 flights delayed, according to FlightAware.
At least 4 inches of snow had fallen over Waynesville, North Carolina, and Mt. LeConte, Tennessee, more snow than has fallen in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. combined so far this winter (2.7 inches).
By the time night fell, the snow had come to an end for the western Carolinas and Georgia. Most of the accumulation had stuck in the mountainous regions while cities in lower elevations saw an inch or less of snow.
„The exception is Oconee and Pickens County, South Carolina, and far northeastern Georgia, where it was generally 2 to 4 inches at lower elevations and 4 to 8 inches above 3,000 feet,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Frank Strait said.
The Charlotte area saw no more than half an inch of snow, while the Greensboro and Winston Salem area saw 1-3 inches.
Despite the lack of accumulation, travel will still be dangerous through Friday morning.
„Where the snow has ended, temperatures are below freezing or will fall below freezing (Thursday night). Lingering meltwater or slush on the roads will freeze solid, leading to icy patches on the roads and sidewalks,” Strait said.
Strait warned that even areas that saw no snow accumulation could still see lingering moisture refreeze and cause icy patches. While major highways will be treated, motorists should take caution while taking secondary and back roads.
Snowfall has begun to wind down over eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, with Raleigh expected to end the night with 2-3 inches of snow and some areas north and northeast at 3-4 inches.
„Areas that see the heaviest snow will take more time to recover due to limited available resources for snow removal and treating the roads,” Strait said. „Motorists in parts of eastern North Carolina and southeastern Virginia may not see the roads truly clear of snow or ice until Saturday afternoon, particularly the back roads in this area.”
Earlier in the day, the state had ramped up preparations to mitigate the potential hazards of the rain and snow before the worst could set in. For many areas, that has meant school being canceled, businesses being closed and residents staying inside.
On Thursday morning, Gov. Roy Cooper said 29 school districts in the state would be closed for the day while 55 others were releasing students early in advance of the snow. As the storm progressed into Thursday night, North Carolina school districts announced delays or closings for Friday as well.
Excitement for the snow abounded among residents and students, such as the ones running to the window at McNair Elementary School in Browns Summit, North Carolina, to see the flakes falling.
„Naturally, as a Southern person, you’re excited because it’s snow and we don’t normally have it,” Rayna Yvars, a Raleigh resident told AccuWeather National Reporter Bill Wadell. „But at the same, the whole state shuts down.”
Others, such as Jenny Berry, said they never know what to expect in February, as one year the weather might allow for time on the beach and another year could bring snow.
|(AccuWeather / Bill Waddell)|
„Oh, I love snow, I just don’t like the ice that follows,” Raleigh resident Sam Regaldo said. „It just melts a little, then it freezes again.”
Preparations for the snow began days ago Jason Dunigan, a Wake County Maintenance Engineer, said.
|Jason Dunigan, the Wake County Maintenance Engineer, spoke with AccuWeather’s Bill Wadell about the region’s snow preparation. (AccuWeather/ Bill Wadell)|
„This past week, we put the tanks on and made the decision to first hit hot spots like bridges and overpasses, so we loaded the trucks up [on Tuesday and Wednesday],” Dunigan told Wadell. „Started hitting bridges, hot spots, overpasses and exit ramps then the forecast changed from 1 inch to 3 inches, so we made the call to hit all of our bare pavement routes.”
Dunigan added that trucks hit the road by 11 a.m. on Thursday morning, with an extra crew of contracted drivers coming in later in the day.
„There’s definitely going to be some slick spots because temperatures are going to fall to 26, 27 degrees by [Friday] morning,” Dunigan said. „We’re just going to be here, we’re going to be here all night long and throughout the morning … we’ll be ready for those.”
Cooper pointed to whiteout conditions near the coast as a weather threat of specific concern.
„We can expect whiteout conditions on the coast due to heavy snows and gusty winds,” Cooper said. „Snowy roads can be deadly if you aren’t careful … Our Department of Transportation crews have been preparing since earlier this week. The State Highway Patrol troopers are ready; they’re out on the roads to assist motorists and keep the traffic moving. And you can help them by staying off the roads when conditions deteriorate.”
|North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper briefed reporters on Thursday about preparations state and local officials were taking ahead of a winter storm that was expected to bring measurable snow to much of the Tarheel State. (AccuWeather / Bill Waddell)|
The day’s tumultuous precipitation began with rain before succumbing to the stormy weather, which crawled northeastward.
Reports and footage of snowfall from eastern Tennessee and northern Georgia trickled in throughout Thursday morning. In Crossville, Tennessee, snow made for slick lanes on Interstate 40 while elevated surfaces in the area measured 2 inches of accumulation.
Additional reporting by Bill Wadell.
With the spring equinox less than a month away, nature is showing signs of the changing seasons already. Earlier this week, Florida radar data revealed a hint of the warmer months to come. The National Weather Service (NWS) Key West meteorologists called radar images „the most impressive display of migratory birds so far this year.”
In a gif tweeted by the NWS Key West on Monday, a weather radar is shown to have picked up a large flock of birds — appearing as a yellow and green mass — heading back north after staying in areas south of the Sunshine State for the duration of the winter.
Key West radar has had a busy night, but not because of weather! The most impressive display of migratory birds so far this year occurred overnight. This product shows biological targets in green/yellow flying north over the Keys. Showers/rain are depicted in darker blues.
Lead forecaster at the NWS Key West Chris Rothwell told AccuWeather that northern bird migration starts around January and goes throughout the summer.
„Generally speaking, in spring, birds are looking for warm and moist air masses, with at least some tail wind support,” according to Andrew Farnsworth, a research associate at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. In fall, he said they seek the reverse.
In January, the temperature in Florida was 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal, and February has continued this warm trend.
Farnsworth told AccuWeather in an email that a hotter-than-average winter season as a whole has affected the migration of birds, but the birds detected on the radar would remain unaffected. He explained that the birds traveling from Cuba are „obligatory migrants” that travel on a clock rather than as a reaction to the temperature. Instead, they know to migrate based off things like the changes in day lengths that come with changing seasons.
Brazil’s Vale knew Brumadinho dam was unsafe as early as 2003: internal report By Anthony Boadle and Gram Slattery•A view of a collapsed tailings dam owned by Brazilian mining company Vale SA, in BrumadinhoBy Anthony Boadle and Gram Slattery BRASILIA/RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – An independent investigation requested by Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA into the causes of the Brumadinho tailings dam disaster that killed 270 people a year ago found the company knew about the problem but failed to deal with it.An executive summary of the report published by Vale on Thursday said the company had information dating as far back as 2003 that pointed to the fragility of the main B1 dam.But steps taken to deal with the structural problem and heighten the dam’s security were limited and ineffective, the report said.The Brumadinho dam burst in January 2019 in Minas Gerais state, unleashing an avalanche of muddy mining waste which killed an estimated 270 people, burying many of them alive.The internal report serves as a damning condemnation of the firm, some of its employees and various auditors. While concerns were raised at various points in time about the dam’s safety, those concerns were repeatedly ignored or minimized over the course of 16 years.In January, state prosecutors charged Fabio Schvartsman, the chief executive at the time of the burst, with homicide. A Brazilian state judge last week accepted the charges.The investigating team concluded that the dam burst was due to structural instability caused by liquefaction, citing among other factors inadequate drainage of the reservoir and a dam that was not designed to contain liquefied material.Among their recommendations, mostly referring to improved operating procedures, the investigators said the company should evaluate the potential risks at other similar dam structures.Vale said in a securities filing that it has already addressed most of the issues mentioned in the recommendations with numerous steps to improve its internal controls.The company said it will announce a timetable for implementing all the those actions within 30 days.The report said that studies in 2016 had determined the dam was in „fragile” condition, and subsequent 2017 studies determined its state was „barely marginal.”
CMS to close schools Friday due to winter weather by Annie Ma•Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be closed on Friday due to weather-related road conditions, the district said, citing concerns about safety.Before- and after-school programs, athletic events and field trips also will be cancelled.Activities scheduled for the weekend, including community use of school facilities, will be held as planned, the district said.The district opted for an early release on Thursday ahead of expected winter weather conditions. CMS last closed schools earlier this month following unsafe road conditions as a result of a storm.
AP PHOTOS: Olympic bidder Sapporo has erratic snowfall
Trucks had to bring in snow from everywhere to keep the festival going, an event that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists. The city’s 40-year-old ski marathon event was cancelled due to a lack of snow.
Paul Sheehan, an Australian who has been coming to Japan for several years to build snow sculptures, noticed the difference this time in Sapporo’s Odori Park.
“Previous years, we’ve had three, four meters of snow,” he said. “Where we are standing now, last year we were a meter higher. We are now standing one meter lower.”
More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Nearly 900,000 pangolins are believed to have been trafficked worldwide in the past two decades, a wildlife watchdog said Thursday, highlighting the challenge in tackling the illicit trade.
As the world’s most heavily trafficked mammal, the creatures are targeted for their body parts which are highly valued in traditional medicine in countries including China and Vietnam, and their meat is seen as a delicacy.
Also known as the scaly anteater, the shy, primarily nocturnal animals have been heavily poached for years in biodiverse Southeast Asia and are being increasingly targeted in Africa.
In a new report, watchdog TRAFFIC estimated about 895,000 pangolins had been smuggled between 2000 and 2019 worldwide.
It also noted that over 96,000 kilograms (210,000 pounds) of the creatures’ scales were seized in Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam between 2017 and 2019 alone.
„Not a day goes by without a wildlife seizure taking place in Southeast Asia, and all too often in volumes that are jaw dropping,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, director for TRAFFIC in the region.
– Rampant trade –
In 2016 the pangolin was given the highest level of protection by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning all trade in the creatures is banned. Prior to that, trade was allowed under strict conditions.
But protection groups say the illicit business is still rampant and TRAFFIC called for stronger laws and penalties, and for authorities to shut down markets and online platforms selling protected wildlife.
Researchers investigating the origin of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China have said the endangered animal may be the link that facilitated the spread of the illness to humans.Scientists have long suspected that the virus, which has killed more than 2,100 people and infected 74,000, was passed from an animal to a human at a market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.TRAFFIC also said Thursday about 225,000 kilograms of African elephant ivory, 100,000 pig-nosed turtles and 45,000 songbirds were seized in Southeast Asia in recent years.
Live video replay: Snow falling in uptown Charlotte ahead of the evening commute
For mobile app users, you can watch the video of snow falling on Charlotte here.
It’s possible some areas in the Piedmont could see up to two inches of snow, while black ice is becoming increasingly likely for the Friday morning commute, forecasters said.