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Schools announce delays, Duke Energy requests conservation as arctic air arrives

Posted January 7, 2015

— Duke Energy asked customers in North Carolina to conserve energy Wednesday afternoon ahead of the first arctic blast of 2015.

Bitterly cold temperatures were pushing into the region during the afternoon hours, and lows will dip into the teens overnight. Duke Energy officials said the most critical time for energy conservation will be between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Thursday.

"The forecasted conditions are very similar to those we experienced last January during the polar vortex and are affecting a large portion of the country,” Nelson Peeler, Duke Energy vice president of transmission system operations, said in a statement.

Duke Energy said customers should reduce thermostats to the lowest comfortable setting, turn off unnecessary lights, postpone household chores that require electricity, unplug cellphone and tablet chargers, operate ceiling fans in a clockwise direction to push warm air down into rooms and leave drapes or blinds open to allow the sun's rays to reach the inside of the house.

“We currently have sufficient generation resources to meet our customers’ energy needs, but we know from experience that conditions can change quickly, and we need to be prepared," Peeler said.

Several local school systems – Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Orange, Harnett, Robeson, Person and Wayne – will operate on two-hour delays Thursday. Protestant Preschool & Kindergarten in Goldsboro will open one hour later than normal due to the cold temperatures.

The Wake County Public School System and Durham Public Schools will be on a normal schedule Thursday, both districts announced on their Twitter accounts.

Homeless shelters across the Triangle were also preparing for the bitterly cold air.

White flags will fly at four locations in Raleigh – The South Wilmington Street Center, 1420 S. Wilmington St., The Healing Place of Wake County, 3310 Glen Royal Road, Raleigh Rescue Mission, 314 E. Hargett St., and the Salvation Army, 1863 Capital Boulevard.

Shelters use the white flag system whenever temperatures are forecast to be below 32 degrees between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. The flag signals that the shelters are making room for more people and won't turn anyone away.

All men seeking shelter in Raleigh should contact the South Wilmington Street Center at 919-857-9428 for referral. Women with children should contact the Salvation Army at 919-834-6733, and women without children should contact the Raleigh Rescue Mission at 919-828-9014.

The Raleigh Rescue Mission was near capacity late Wednesday night. Once the mission is full, they work with other shelters to house people for the night.

In Durham, the Durham Rescue Mission will open its doors to anyone who needs a place to stay. A hot meal will be served at the shelter between 4:45 and 6 p.m., and those staying overnight will be able to watch ACC basketball on a big screen television in the Rescue Mission's Center for Hope.

On a cold night last year, James Davis accepted the mission's offer to help him get his life back on track. Now he's helping others seeking shelter from the cold.

"It is really rough to deal with," he said. "If it wasn't for this place, I really did not have any other options."

More than 200 coats and 60 heaters were handed out at the Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh.

"My feet is cold, hands cold, it is just all over my body," said Keonte Gause, who picked up a heater. "It is cold."

Temperatures were in the mid-30s at 2 p.m. Wednesday, about as warm as they will get all day. Afternoon temperatures will fall into the 20s by the evening commute before bottoming out in the teens overnight.

Wind gusts could reach 30 mph overnight as well, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a wind chill advisory for much of central North Carolina between midnight Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday. Wind chills could be at or below zero during the early-morning hours Thursday.

Highs Thursday afternoon won't climb above freezing on Thursday despite sunny skies. After another cold night with temperatures in the low 20s, daytime highs will return to the 40s on Friday.

Outside workers struggle to stay warm

As temperatures plummet, those who work outside – delivery drivers, construction workers and others – have been looking for ways to stay warm as they continue to work.

Michelle Lopez, spent part of Wednesday afternoon trying to stay warm in between her deliveries for Durham's cupcake bar.

"Sometimes you have to park really far away and walk long distances," she said.

Construction workers like Reginald Carpenter normally add more layers as the temperatures drop.

"We do a little bit of this," Carpenter said as he pulled a mask over his face.

He also said it never gets much easier to deal with the frigid air.

"It's always cold, but you just deal with it," he said.

Tips to keep pipes from freezing

  • Seal all openings in which cold air could reach unprotected pipes.
  • Let faucets drip slowly to keep water flowing through pipes that are vulnerable.
  • If dripping stops, it may mean ice is blocking the pipe.
  • If nothing comes out a faucet that is turned on, leave it on and call a plumber.
  • Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or open flame because it could be a fire hazard.
  • If pipes have burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house and leave water faucets turned on.

This story is closed for comments.

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  • Janet Clarke Jan 8, 2015
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    Also, some kids don't have warm winter gear because it doesn't usually get this cold. They may have a warm coat or one that's good for the Wisconsin fall season but don't normally need hats or mittens in NC.

  • injameswetrust2003 Jan 7, 2015

    I wonder does Wisconsin have forced busing with kids out in the dark and cold waiting for a long bus ride. Buses don't start = longer waits out in the cold.

  • Hubris Jan 7, 2015

    My neighbor from Wisconsin was laughing hysterically after I told her some of the schools around here were closing because it was "too" cold.

  • Dan Homiller Jan 7, 2015
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    Perhaps you should go meet some homeless people. Many of them work, although the working options for many are limited precisely because they are homeless. Some have cars. Some have cellphones - that can be a particularly critical lifeline if you don't have a fixed address. They're homeless, not ascetics.

  • John McCray Jan 7, 2015
    user avatar

    C'mon now. Kids can go to school on time tomorrow. Just because it's cold doesn't mean they will be in danger. Bundle up and stay warm.

  • josepha1 Jan 7, 2015

    Since when did they delay schools for it being winter out and no chance of snow?

  • Steve Faulkner Jan 7, 2015
    user avatar

    I find it ironic that phone numbers are posted for the shelters. Do homeless people have cell phones?

  • Jenna Moore Jan 7, 2015
    user avatar

    Some homeless are able to go into libraries and use the computers. However, the main reason for posting this information is so that those of us who do see it can share it with those out in the cold. You know, stop and tell a person who is sitting out in the cold that there is an indoor option.

    View quoted thread

  • Barbara Sossomon Jan 7, 2015
    user avatar

    What I find ironic is that they are posting on here who to contact, depending on your gender and family status. I suspect that if someone is homeless that chances are fairly decent that they do not have a computer.

    That being said, if you have warm blankets, coats, hats, jackets, sweaters, gloves, warm socks, etc, Briggs Hardware on Atlantic Ave in Raleigh helps many homeless veterans in the area around their store and could really use your things. Please consider this when getting rid of items. They will go directly to our Homeless Veterans at NO COST! Help A Veteran today, please!