Raleigh, N.C. — Tuesday marked the coldest day the Triangle has had since last winter, and the wind chill made it feel even colder. With temperatures dropping, there are several ways to keep homes, cars, pets and people safe from the winter chill.
With highs only reaching into the mid to upper 20s Tuesday afternoon, it was the first below normal day since Dec. 18, said WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel. In the 34 days since Dec. 1, 25 days have been above normal.
"This is really, sort of, an anomaly, an outlier," Fishel said. "By the end of the week, we'll be back into the same old pattern."
In the meantime, local charities encouraged people who spend a lot of time outside to bundle up and be safe.
For those needing emergency shelter from the bitter cold and biting wind, the Raleigh Rescue Mission opened its doors Tuesday. The mission can accommodate about 25 extra people when the temperatures fall below freezing, in addition to the 75 residents they serve daily.
Even if those emergency beds fill up, Executive Director Lynn Daniell still encouraged anyone needing to get out of the cold to come inside the Hargett Street shelter. The charity can help find a bed somewhere nearby for anyone who needs it, he said.
Raleigh Rescue Mission also distributed more than 1,600 articles of winter clothing – including coats, hats and gloves – to needy people Tuesday.
"It's so easy for us to get so involved with ourselves about staying warm that sometimes we don't think about somebody else, particularly when it's extremely cold," Daniell said.
Freezing temperatures aren't only a health risk, they can have devastating effects on homes.
Brian Mountain, owner of Triangle Plumbing, strongly advised insulating pipes as the first step to make a home winter ready.
"In any non-insulated room, non-heated room, this needs to be done," he said.
Attics and basements are especially prone to bursting pipes, he said, but keeping at least one faucet dripping inside the house can help prevent a watery mess.
"Usually when something breaks in the attic, you don't find out about it until it's raining in your living room," he said.
Outside, Mountain suggests removing the backflow valve on irrigation systems. If it freezes, it can cost up to $300 to replace, he said.
Don't forget to check outdoor faucets.
"If you have an older-style hose bib, see if you can get one of those insulated caps," he said. "If you have a newer one, all you have to do is take your hose off and you're good to go."
Daytime highs in the Triangle will climb back into the 40s to near 50 Wednesday and Thursday, but lows should stay in the mid 20s.
Above average temperatures will return late in the week, with highs Friday, Saturday and Sunday climbing back into the upper 50s and low 60s.
"A lot of times we get into January and we get into cruise control with colder temperatures," said meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner. "That's not going to be the case later this week and this weekend. We're going to be riding that temperature roller-coaster.
The National Weather Service issued a winter weather warning Tuesday for higher elevations in Avery, Buncombe, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Madison, Mitchell, Swain, Transylvania and Yancey counties.
A winter weather advisory was in effect for lower elevations and included parts of Burke, Caldwell, Henderson, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties.