Ice Storm Started: February 2, 1996 at 3 am EST Ended: February 2, 1996 at 3 pm EST
By the early morning hours damaging accumulations of ice were becoming widespread. Northern mountain counties reported freezing rain and sleet accrual of 1 to 3 inches on roads with damage becoming common. Significant icing began in foothill counties. In many areas the severe icing did not abate until the storm ended during the late night. By 1500 EST, many major population centers such as Hickory and Statesville were reporting 50 percent power outages. The storm became the "worst ice storm ever" in local power company records. By late night most customers had lost power. Many customers did not have power restored for up to a week during extremely cold weather. Around 1800 EST the freezing rain began to change over to sleet and then snow as drier and colder air surged in. Some thunder was reported. This left a very slick and dangerous surface on top of the massive accumulations of ice. Emergency crews were not able to respond quickly to stranded motorist and those without power. Numerous shelters were opened and some counties declared official emergency conditions.
Rain began to freeze in the southern foothills and most of the piedmont. Bridges and overpasses quickly became icy with numerous problems reported on highways and streets. Rain was falling so heavily that not much was accumulating as ice. However, by about noon, ice storm conditions began to develop quickly with numerous power outages reported. Areas west and north of Charlotte were hardest hit. Damage estimates for this major ice storm are a broad estimate and not reliable. Road repair/cleanup costs in North Carolina exceeded $20 million. Numerous traffic accidents caused many injuries and some indirect fatalities.