Snow falls across western NC as Sandy storms ahead - FOX Carolina 21

Snow falls across western NC as Sandy storms ahead

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Forecasters warned of heavy snow possible in the western North Carolina, while a few flakes are possible in the northern Upstate.

The National Weather Service issued a winter storm watch for most of western North Carolina until 6 a.m. Wednesday. A high wind warning and freeze warning was also issued for the same area. FOX Carolina Chief Meteorologist Kendra Kent said wind gusts reached over 40 mph in the mountains and over 30 mph in the Upstate on Monday night.

Kent said Sandy's nature as a "superstorm" is the result of a tropical storm system that intensified as it moved through the Atlantic then met up with upper level energy that was moving through Canada and the northern United States, making the system so unique - becoming a hybrid system.

That system sent cold weather, wintry mix and snow south. That snow was forecast to fall throughout Monday and Tuesday in western North Carolina. Kent said that by Tuesday morning, most roads from Asheville northward would be icy. She said some locations south of Asheville could have some slick spots.

By the time the storm is over Wednesday, as much as 10 inches of snow is possible in the highest elevations of the mountains, Kent said. She said as little as 4 inches could fall in the lower elevations of North Carolina.

As of early Tuesday morning, snow fall had totaled more than 4 inches in some areas. The National Weather Service reported unofficial observations of a snowfall of 4 inches in Bakersville in Mitchell and Transylvania counties, 6 inches in Madison County and 3 inches in parts of Buncombe and Haywood counties.

SLIDESHOW: iWitness photos of western NC snowfall

Kent said flurries could be seen as far south as the northern part of the Upstate, but no slick spots are expected on roads in South Carolina.

Duke Energy was reporting more than 2,500 outages in Henderson County but had restored power to nearly half of those customers by 8 a.m. Power was also restored to all but about 330 in Rutherford early Tuesday morning. Spartanburg County and Greenville had very few outages.

Progress Energy reported that more than 600 customers were without power in both Buncombe and Mitchell counties. Duke also reported several hundred customers without power in Polk County and Spartanburg and Cherokee counties in the Upstate.

Once the storm is over, freezing conditions move in, creating black ice and slippery roads in the mountains, Kent said. She said winds in the Upstate should keep frost from developing Monday night, but lighter winds Tuesday night could allow frost to form.

North Carolina Department of Transportation officials reported that Interstate 26 at mile marker 9 was impassible in both directions in Madison County near Mars Hill about 4:30 a.m. The North Carolina Highway Patrol reported about 3 inches of snow in that area near the Tennessee state line.

Troopers said so far, northern counties including Yancey, Mitchell, Madison and Avery were seeing a lot of slush on the roadways as snow continued to fall. Dispatchers said there have no major accidents reported.

Earlier Tuesday morning, troopers also said the left lane of westbound Interstate 40 near mile marker 7 and the Tennessee line was slushy, but the right lane was open. DOT officials also reported impassable roads along US 64 near Highlands in Macon County because of patches of ice and slick, icy roadways along US 221 near Marion in McDowell County.

A few school districts altered schedules Tuesday because of the storm. See the complete list of closings and delays here.

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue declared a state of emergency for all of western North Carolina, freeing up resources to respond to dangerous weather conditions. To prevent gas price gouging, state officials activated a North Carolina law preventing businesses from rising prices during disasters.

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