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Classes canceled as snow, ice hit Duke, N.C.

A winter storm rocked Duke and the surrounding area Sunday, making travel treacherous and prompting University officials to cancel Monday classes.

The Severe Weather Policy went into effect Sunday afternoon, as essential employees were asked to report to work and all other employees went or stayed home. On-campus restaurants closed early and large buses stopped running, replaced by smaller vans.

 

Damage from the storm is unknown because a police spokesperson declined to comment, except to say through an associate that "nothing major" happened. A glaze of up to one-quarter inch was forecast to coat roads, tree limbs and power lines in the Durham area, leading officials to close public schools in Durham and surrounding counties.

 

The rest of North Carolina was largely shut down as well, thanks to an early covering of snow and forecasts of freezing rain that would make roads even more hazardous. Gov. Mike Easley declared a state of emergency, allowing him to activate the National Guard.

 

With temperatures dropping into the 20s overnight, weather forecasters warned that travel would stay hazardous until temperatures rose above freezing Monday afternoon.

 

"It's far worse than just having snow, because that crust is going to be slippery," said Susan Yeaman of the National Weather Service in Raleigh. "It's going to keep things slippery and crusty until into [Monday]."

 

The predictions brought to mind the debilitating ice storm of December 2002, which left more than 1.8 million North Carolina utility customers in cold and darkness for up to a week. No power outages were reported by early evening, emergency officials and utility spokesmen said.

 

Two teams of 25 soldiers each were to report to armories in Louisburg and Kinston early Monday, said Renee Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. They were to be ready to respond if hospitals or nursing homes lose power and need to be supplied with a generator, she said.

 

Hoffman said State Highway Patrol troopers responded to 2,000 traffic accidents across the state between midnight and 3 p.m. Sunday.

 

Churches canceled services and Fort Bragg canceled bus service to a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game in Raleigh for Military Appreciation Day. The planned video tributes took place during the game with the Buffalo Sabres, but planned displays of military equipment and vehicles were canceled, the NHL team said.

Durham Academy, Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public Schools, Orange County Public Schools, Chatham County Public Schools, Granville County Public Schools, Person County Public Schools and Wake County Public Schools are also closed. The Durham City government and Durham County government are also closed Monday.

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