73 NC counties and 1 VA county are under alert, including Wake, Durham, Orange, Harnett, and Moore counties. Details
Published: 2010-01-03 06:51:00
Updated: 2010-01-03 23:38:09
Posted January 3, 2010 6:51 a.m. EST
Updated January 3, 2010 11:38 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolinians venturing outside around sunrise Sunday got a stiff, cold awakening: temperatures in the high teens and wind chills dipping into the single digits.
"The coldest air of the season is upon us," the National Weather Service warns.
Around 7 a.m., Chapel Hill was chilling at 16 degrees, Raleigh at 20 degrees and Smithfield at 23 degrees. Strong, northwesterly winds made it feel as if it were 7 degrees in Raleigh and 11 degrees in Fayetteville.
The high Sunday was 32 degrees and overnight lows will drop back into the teens.
WRAL meteorologist Mike Moss predicted that Sunday will be the second in a string of four days when the temperature averages less than 30 degrees in Raleigh. On Saturday, Raleigh's high of 32 degrees and low of 22 degrees averaged 27 degrees.
The last time the Triangle saw that long cold streak was in January 2002. A five-day streak was set in January 2000, and the 9-day record was set in "the very cold January of 1977," Moss said.
Monday and Tuesday are expected to be cold with a high in the mid 30s.
"We are still going to have the cold weather but not the wind, which can make it feel colder than it actually is," WRAL meteorologist Kim Deaner said.
A brief and relative warm-up is possible midweek: The mercury could reach into the low 40s Wednesday and Thursday.
But deep trough of cold, northern air will come roaring back in late Thursday. That system could set off a low pressure system that might bring moisture from the Gulf of Mexico north.
"Depending on how all those things end up interacting, it's at least possible that Thursday night into early Friday, we could see some snow or rain around the area," Moss said.
"Then, there's another cold blast right behind that that could leave us with mid to low 30s for highs Friday and Saturday," he continued.
Homeless shelters in the Triangle are preparing to help more people during the cold snap.
Durham Rescue Mission volunteers will be on the streets Sunday afternoon, urging the homeless to go to shelters. Those who come to the shelter Sunday evening will get gloves, shirts and headwear.
Shelters in Wake County initiate the "White Flag" program when overnight temperatures are below freezing. The shelters then take all comers, no matter how overcrowded it gets.
Shelters in Wake and Durham counties