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By Connie Leinbach and Peter Vankevich
Ocracoke islanders woke up Thursday morning to a winter wonderland outside.
The storm, expected to impact most of the state, surprised many with the amount of snow.
Yesterday, anticipating a snowfall in the one- to two-, possibly three-inch range, Hyde County announced a delayed opening for government offices that were supposed to be noon today. By daylight, all offices were closed for the day as was Ocracoke School. Hyde County government offices will remain closed on Friday.
The NPS offices were closed Thursday but will open Friday. Ocracoke School begins at 11:45 a.m. and Hyde County offices will open at noon.
High winds in the 25 to 35 mph range started at nightfall, accompanying the precipitation that began as icy rain, caused Hatteras/Ocracoke route to be suspended.
That run resumed midday although the Cedar Island and Swan Quarter ferries did not run.
As the storm wound down, the National Weather Service reported at 5:30 a.m. this morning that Ocracoke village received 7.5 inches of snow. Mainland Hyde reported in several locations over 7 inches, and Southern Shores in Dare County had 9.5 inches. Further inland, up to a foot or more fell in parts of Chatham, Person, Durham and Orange Counties.
Nathan Spencer, owner of Coastal Gas in Coinjock, Currituck County, reported 7 inches of snow at his office and 5 to 6 inches of snow where he lives in Grandy.
It’s not every winter that Ocracoke gets a significant snowfall, and island youngsters wasted no time getting out into the below-freezing temperatures early this morning to get in some fun before the melt set in later in the day. Island kids typically use boogie boards to slide down the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department driveway.
“It’s too powdery,” said Jason Wells, who supervised his son, Griffin, and a few other kids around 9 a.m., but after making a path, they soon had some successful slides.
Island NCDOT workers spent the day scraping the slushy snow off island roads, on which a melt had begun by midday.