Bitter-cold temps to stick around before warm-up
Posted January 7, 2014
Raleigh, N.C. — Temperatures in the Triangle and beyond might have dropped to single digits Tuesday morning, but a much-needed warm-up for the area is in on the way.
"The good news is it will not be 9 degrees when you get up tomorrow morning," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "It will be warmer. The question is how much warmer?"
More moderate temperatures are expected Thursday, and by the weekend the high temperatures will climb into the 60s, thanks to a high pressure system from the northwest that will combine with air from the Gulf of Mexico.
That will mean warmer, but also wetter weather. Light rain is possible Saturday.
Still, the Triangle must get through the next couple days of arctic air.
The low in Raleigh reached 9 degrees – the first time in nearly 14 years that the temperature plummeted to single digits. By noon Tuesday, the air warmed to 19 degrees with a wind chill of 11.
The previous record low for Jan. 7 was 15 degrees.
Other areas saw noon temperatures around the 20-degree mark, but wind chills kept the air feeling much colder. In Rocky Mount, for example, it was 18 degrees at noon, but it felt like it was 4 degrees.
"Everybody stayed below freezing on this entire map, and that is an unusual occurrence for North Carolina," Fishel said.
The region is in for another frigid night. Overnight lows are expected to be in the teens.
"It's clear. It's calm. It's starting off at 23 degrees," Fishel said. "It's got to go below 20. We're saying 15."
The below-freezing temperatures forecast for Wednesday has prompted several school districts – including those in Granville, Franklin, Person, Sampson, Vance and Wayne counties – to delay classes by two hours. (View a list of the latest closings and delays.)
It will be lunchtime Wednesday before temperatures climb above the freezing mark.
The freezing temperatures heighten concern for hypothermia – when a person’s body temperature drops below 95 degrees – and frostbite. At temperatures of 15 to 30 below, exposed skin can become frostbitten in minutes. Experts advise residents to stay covered when outside, avoid alcohol and contact a doctor if patches of dry, red skin develop.
Area homeless shelters called Monday night a "white flag" night, meaning workers and volunteers doubled efforts to help those without a warm place to stay. They put out extra cots and reached out to the homeless to let them know they can come in from the cold.
"Every now and then, we’ll find somebody that doesn’t want to come in," said Rodney McClain of the Durham Rescue Mission, which was at capacity. "They are comfortable where they are. A lot of time they don’t get to see the news, and they don’t know just how cold it will be.”
The Salvation Army shelter in Raleigh normally offers beds for women with children, but it also opened doors to single women because to the cold weather. The shelter was not at capacity Tuesday morning.
The SPCA of Wake County also reminded people that they are legally required to provide proper shelter for animals and urged them to bring their pets inside.
“A good rule of thumb is that if it is too cold for you outside or cold enough to be uncomfortable without a winter coat, then it is too cold for your pet – even outdoor pets,” said SPCA marketing manager Darci VanderSlik.
Car batteries are also vulnerable to cold weather. Most batteries under three years old should be able to handle the cold, but it is best to keep a vehicle in a garage to help ensure it will start.
Angela Daley, a spokeswoman for AAA Carolinas, said Tuesday that calls were up about 20 percent compared with a normal January day.
Many of the calls were related to dead batteries.
Nick Dealto, who works at Advance Auto Parts on Western Boulevard in Raleigh, advised drivers to check coolant levels and washer fluid, and be ready for cold weather.
"Make sure you have jumper cables and a roadside assistance bag ready just in case you run into a scenario where the battery does die," Dealto said.