RALEIGH A winter storm packing heavy snow, sleet and freezing rain is on track for N.C., causing last minute chaos for those planning the inauguration of newly sworn-in Governor Roy Cooper. Cooper kicked off his morning with a press conference at the State Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh announcing a 36-hour State of Emergency for N.C. and advising people to stay off the roads. He signed two standard Executive Orders to mobilize response teams and lift weigh restrictions on trucks. Forecasters say roads across the U.S. South and Southeast may become impassable and power outages are possible starting on Friday and into the weekend. “Our emergency management and transportation crews have been working with local officials throughout the week to make sure we’re prepared and informed about potentially hazardous weather conditions,” said Gov. Cooper. “Please, do your part by paying attention to the weather forecast, following instructions from local officials and putting safety first.”The announcement came just before a prayer service in downtown Raleigh honoring Cooper and the new Council of State members as they take office. The Council of State officials then met for a brief swearing-in and photo op at the Executive Mansion.The inaugural parade and ball originally scheduled for Saturday, were postponed. The Junior League of Raleigh announced earlier Friday that the ball ticket holders may join the Council of State reception planned for Friday evening at the Marbles children’s museum in downtown Raleigh.The changes come as a large swath of the United States, from Louisiana northeast through the Appalachian Mountains and into southern Pennsylvania, is expected to get as much as 8 inches (20 cm) of snow with 1 inch (3 cm) of sleet, according to the National Weather Service. “We cannot stress enough the importance of staying off the road this weekend,” urged N.C. Public Safety Secretary Erik A. Hooks. “The snow may be fun to play in, but it will be dangerous to drive in. Don’t put yourself, your family or our emergency responders lives at risk.” A weather warning was in effect until Saturday afternoon for most of N.C. along with northwest S.C. and northern Georgia where heavy snow, freezing temperatures and wind gusts of up to 25 miles per hour were expected. “The heavy snow will make many roads impassable and may produce widespread power outages,” the weather service said. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal also declared a state of emergency for 79 counties and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley issued a state of emergency for his entire state.
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