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Record-breaking cold spell to linger through Friday

Posted February 19, 2015

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— Frigid temperatures rushed into the central part of North Carolina early Thursday, and the dangerous arctic air won't be gone until midday Saturday. 

Temperatures were in the teens across the Triangle at noon Thursday, and wind chills were in the single digits. Despite abundant sunshine, late afternoon temperatures peaked in the low 20s in the central part of the state.

"It was a beautiful day - barely a cloud in the sky," WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. "However, this is an exceptionally frigid air mass."

A winter weather advisory for wind chill temperatures remains in effect across North Carolina until 9 a.m. Friday morning. The overnight low in Raleigh is expected to reach 5 degrees, and the high Friday will be in the low 20s.

"There's actually a secondary cold front that will come through the area this evening," Fishel said. "For tomorrow, we're looking at lots and lots of sunshine, but it's still 30 degrees below normal."

Area homeless shelters began flying white flags Wednesday night to warn of the dangers of temperatures below freezing. All men seeking shelter in Raleigh should first contact the South Wilmington Street Center for referral. Women with children should contact The Salvation Army. Women with or without children may contact the Raleigh Rescue Mission.

The historic dip in temperatures prompted Duke Energy to ask its customers to cut back temporarily on their use of electricity to help the company avoid outages. 

Duke says the most critical times for conservation are 5 to 10 a.m. on Thursday and Friday mornings, times when temperatures could be in the single digits to teens across all of the Triangle. 

Cutting back can be as simple as unplugging chargers for phones and tablets, which draw energy even when they aren't in use. 

Other ways to save on energy: 

Change filters:  A dirty one makes heating systems work harder, which uses more energy.
Take advantage of blinds and curtains: Open them – especially those on south-facing windows – during the day to let in the sun. Close them at night to help insulate.

Replace the bulbs: Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or light-emitting diodes (LED) are more energy-efficient and provide the same amount of light.

Unused heating vents and rooms: Don't close them off. Doing so can use more energy.

Keep ceiling fans off: Don't bother turning them on to blow down warm air. Consumer Reports tests found the draft often gives people a chill, causing them to turn up the thermostat.

Despite the frigid temperatures, the work day went ahead as scheduled for many whose jobs keep them outside. Kendrick Smith, who works for a recycling company in Raleigh, usually starts his day at 6 a.m. The company had a 10 a.m. start on Thursday.

"I'm layered up, so it ain't that bad, but it's really cold on my face," he said. "I can deal with it. Just another day at the office."

Outdoor workers say the key is to keep moving, take breaks to warm up and wear a lot of layers.

"My bones started hurting and my body was shaking," construction worker Salvador Cruz said about stepping outside to start his work day. "You can see, I'm still shaking a bit."

Conditions will begin to thaw over the weekend as temperatures warm into the 40s and 50s.


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