An overnight winter storm drew people of all ages outside on Saturday, many looking for a snowy hill and something to slide on.
For roommates Ethan Autry and Simon Owens, this was no ordinary sled.
“We looked around the house and all we could find was a canoe,” said Autry, who along with Owens and about 100 others also found a hill at Town Creek Culvert downtown. of Greenville.
“Honestly, we thought it would be really fun,” said Owens, who lives with Autry a few blocks away on Jarvis Street. “We wanted to create a show, and we did. It really appealed to the crowd.”
The two East Carolina University students and their friends sent the ship sliding about 15 times in an hour, riding it themselves and letting other winter warriors try.
Autry, a construction management specialist, said he had previously paddled a canoe in the nearby River Tar. “Today was his maiden voyage on earth,” he said.
“It’s by far the best use,” said health and fitness expert Owens.
The storm that started with sleet from Friday afternoon to Friday evening brought up to 4 inches of morning snow, the National Weather Service reported.
Roads in the area were covered by the sunrise, but road crews, the sun, rising temperatures and traffic had started clearing lanes on major thoroughfares by midday.
Still, patches of snow and ice remained plentiful, officials said, especially in shaded areas, on bridges and on less traveled roads.
The North Carolina Weather Service and Department of Transportation warned snowmelt and sleet will refreeze tonight with temperatures as low as 16 degrees.
“People should not attempt to drive in these conditions,” Transportation Secretary J. Eric Boyette said in a press release. “Our crews are working around the clock to treat and clear the roads as quickly as possible and we need everyone to do their part and stay off the roads.”
Nearly 2,000 NCDOT crew members and contractors were at work all day today, Boyette said. They had over 1,100 trucks and graders spreading salt and sand and clearing snow from the roads.
Public works crews from Greenville and other municipalities were also at work today, along with staff from ECU and Recreation and Greenville Parks, who cleared paths at the Town Common while visitors to the park were playing in the snow.
Sunshine and temperatures in the mid 40s on Sunday are expected to further improve conditions.
Freezing rain, sleet and snow blew over coastal areas stretching from South Carolina to Virginia, but no power outages were reported and few problems resulting from the storm locally, as residents largely heeded warnings to stay at home.
A Delta Air Lines plane with 19 passengers on board skidded off the runway and rolled in mud as it taxied at snow-covered Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Friday evening, the Associated Press reported. No injuries were reported on the flight from Washington, D.C.
Saturday’s snow was initially dry. Ashley and Sincere Johnson struggled to make a snowman at Ayden Recreation Park and resorted to piling it around a traffic cone.
As the temperatures warmed and the sun helped moisten the cover, snowball fights broke out on the grid and College Hill in Greenville.
Students used trays, cardboard, recycling bins and all sorts of methods to race down the hills outside the Jones Residence and Todd Dining Hall.
Snowstorms don’t often visit eastern North Carolina. So the residents try to take advantage of it when they do.
“I think I got up at 5 a.m.,” Greenville resident Rhea Sellers said on the South Tar River Greenway on Saturday morning. “Gotta see it drop. I’m from Virginia Beach but been here a while. We get it maybe once a year if we’re lucky.”
“Getting anything over 2.3 inches is a lot. Nothing more than a dusting is important. When we have snow like this, my dad actually builds an igloo. He takes recycling old bins and takes blocks of snow, packs them really tight and builds an entire igloo. He’s got so much talent.
Sellers said she had planned to hike Goose Creek in the snow, but was uncomfortable driving with ice on the ground.
“A little more slippery than I’m comfortable with and it’s a good 45 minute ride with no snow. It would probably take me a long time to get there. The greenway is pretty good,” Sellers said.
Others also gravitated towards the greenway. East Carolina University students Claudia Gruber, Noelle Shimaz and Shelby Walters had dated Walters’ dog, a Doberman named Maverick. Snow was a rare sight for Gruber and Shimaz, originally from Los Angeles.
“Last night we saw the snow falling pretty hard,” Gruber said. “It was so much fun for us because we had never seen snow like this before.”
“We really don’t see any snow,” Shimaz said. “It rains once a year (in Los Angeles). She’s more prepared than I am for the weather. I’m shivering here.”
The green route was a good option for both.
“I can’t go anywhere because I can’t drive in the snow,” Gruber said. “I can barely drive in the rain. It’s going to be a cold day. I love going on the green lane.”
Maverick, experiencing his first real snowfall, didn’t have much to say but managed to make two friends in the form of dachshunds Benji and Banjo, the dogs of Greenville resident Miranda Lee.
“I think they really like it, but if they stop running for a second, they start shivering,” Lee said. “I’m going to make snow cream.”
“(Maverick) saw a little bit last year around this time, but he was a lot smaller and didn’t like it back then,” Walters said.