Local News

Some in Triangle brave cold temps to keep working

Posted January 7

— While many Triangle residents spent Tuesday morning figuring out how to avoid the frigid arctic air that dived southward late Monday, those with jobs involving outdoor work did the best they could to deal with it and keep working. 

Temperatures dipped to 9 degrees early Tuesday morning at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, setting a new record low for Jan. 7, and at noon, temperatures were still hovering near 20 degrees. 

With northwesterly winds gusting between 5 and 15 mph, the wind chill factor – what it feels like outside – could remain in the teens throughout the day. 

Chris Williams, an electrician in Raleigh who was heading to Durham Tuesday to dig up some pipes, said days like Tuesday make him think twice about working outdoors. 

"On days like today, I'm wishing I was inside," he said.

Despite the frigid working conditions, Williams said his boss does allow him to do whatever he can to stay warm.

"He lets us jump in the truck to warm up," Williams said. "He doesn't nitpick about us sitting in the truck for a few minutes here and there."

Carlton Sutton, a United States Postal Service mail carrier, said his goal on Tuesday was to keep moving. He said generosity from people he delivers to also helps. 

"They always ask me, 'Got enough to drink? Got something hot.' Already been offered twice to come inside and get some cocoa," he said Tuesday afternoon. "I just enjoy what I do. This is a rough day, but I always tell people I get enough good days that I can take one or two rough days to keep it moving."

Parking enforcement officers for the City of Raleigh were warned by city officials early Tuesday to dress in layers and be aware of signs of hypothermia or frostbite.

"We're trying to take as many breaks as we can and keep our bodies warm so we can work tomorrow," Ammar Jawwad said. "If we make it through today, we're fine for the rest of the week."

Leydis Sabala, a FedEx delivery worker, said she didn't have the option of staying inside and staying warm Tuesday morning. Packages had to be delivered.

"Nothing prepares you for this cold. Nothing," she said. "But we just have to do it."

Temperatures will warm slightly on Wednesday afternoon, topping out in the upper 30s, but early morning temperatures will still be in the teens.

Local plumbing company sees big increase in calls

Bob Poole, owner of Poole's Plumbing, a Garner-based company that services homes across the entire Triangle, said he and supervisors not normally needed in the field were all out early Tuesday due to a big jump in calls. 

"It was a zoo this morning. Got in, and the phones didn't let up for six to seven hours," Poole said. "We received 60 calls first thing this morning."

Poole, who was also out in the field Tuesday afternoon helping his technicians defrost pipes, said he hasn't seen similar weather in 20 years. 

Craig and Christina Wilson, who live in Holly Springs, were two of many in the Triangle who woke up Tuesday with frozen pipes.

"I'm from Massachusetts. I've never had this happen before," Christina Wilson said. "Craig started to run water to shower. There was only cold water. Then we knew we had a problem. We're just going with it. Adds excitement to the day-to-day routine."

38 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • mafiamic Jan 8, 10:05 a.m.

    When arte people going to stop thinking everyone works mon-fri 9-5?.
    People work all days and hours,and yes not everyone works behind a desk.Your reporters worked outside doing their stories and they dressed appropriately.
    The cold is not a problem if you dress right.

  • welfarequeen Jan 8, 8:48 a.m.

    I'm not working today either, it's too cold. I'm going to watch netflix and do my nails.

  • anonemoose Jan 7, 6:57 p.m.

    Lady Justice, I can remember when school buses were issued chains and the male drivers were required to install their chains and the chains of the female drivers, and I also remember year round DST meaning that the sun didn't really come up until 8:15 AM when we were already at school. We had to carry flashlights to the bus stops.

  • anonemoose Jan 7, 6:53 p.m.

    I spent most of the day running errands on my motorcycle and stayed warm and toasty. It was getting off the bike and going in and coming out that froze my tail, but I'm glad that the cold slowed down the PEO working around the courthouse because if he had been moving at full speed, he would have got me. I got back to the bike just in time.

  • Hammerhead Jan 7, 6:29 p.m.

    I worked in a gymnasium sized freezer in college. It was -10 and windy (fans) constantly. A couple of days isn't going to kill them.

  • jetset Jan 7, 6:27 p.m.

    Fortunately, I had an "inside" job except when I traveled from home to home taking care of people. Even then, I may have had to brave the heat or cold or rain getting in and out of the car into their house. So, actually I only had a minute taste of the elements outside workers had to endure. My husbad had an outside job for MANY years. I often asked how could he stand the cold, cold weather. He said you get use to it (?)

  • Made In USA Jan 7, 6:01 p.m.

    HOA's at our condos in Cary went around taping signs to everyone's entrance Monday morning. The note said to "Please leave a faucet dripping overnight for the next 2 nights". I've seen so far only one unit with the water meter being turned off, accompanied by a plumbing company. I expect that unit had busted water pipes.

    Busted water pipes can do some real damage in the blink of an eye. I hope everyone takes all the necessary steps to prevent them, especially those living above other people's homes.

  • Obamacare prevails again Jan 7, 4:53 p.m.

    yankee1, indoors......but if I want to get outside, well, that's what sick days are for. :D

  • saturn5 Jan 7, 4:47 p.m.

    melanie3: "the CEO's are warm and earning $300/hr for every hour these guys get.."

    Is that good or bad, because I don't think most CEOs have control over the weather. But I hear they're all evil, so maybe they have some sinister weather control machine? Would that be the same hurricane machine Bush used to create Katrina?

  • yankee1 Jan 7, 4:33 p.m.

    Calm down folks, all they're saying is on days like this one, they'd rather be inside. I think most other days these people enjoy working outdoors as opposed to in an office/indoor setting.... Obamacare prevails again

    Just curious! What is your preferred work environment?

More...