State News

Deep cold settles in over central N.C.

Posted January 16, 2009 5:14 a.m. EST
Updated March 9, 2009 5:12 p.m. EDT

— Temperatures could dip into the single digits overnight Friday, as bitter cold settles over the state for part of the weekend.

"The cold has finally arrived. And it's going to stay cold. It's going to stay below freezing," WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.

Overnight's temperature plunge could cause the coldest temperature on record since Jan. 29, 2000 – when there was a 20-inch snowfall.

Keep yourself healthy and protect your pets, plumbing and home during cold weather.

Cloud cover inhibited the temperatures from falling below the 20s for most of the evening, but WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said as the skies clear early Saturday temperatures will plummet.

Earlier Friday, winds of up to 10 mph made it seem even colder – closer to zero degrees in some places across the Piedmont. In western North Carolina at 7 a.m., the thermometer read 1 above zero in Asheville, and the wind chill was -12, the National Weather Service said. Jefferson had a reading was of zero degrees, with a wind chill of -14.

Forecasters predicted that temperatures will stay below freezing until Saturday afternoon – perhaps more than 40 hours of sub-freezing conditions.

Saturday will see a high around 34 degrees, but temperatures will get above the freezing mark for only a couple hours.

On Sunday, it'll get warmer – all the way up into the mid-40s. Temperatures will continue to moderate at the beginning of next week.

"It depends on what you consider a warm-up," Gardner said. "We'll be a little bit warmer on Sunday, but our temperatures don't climb back up to near normal until the middle or maybe the later part of next week."

Sunday will also see spotty showers or flurries – but don't expect it to amount to much, Gardner cautioned.

Coping with the cold

Chatham County schools delayed opening by two hours Friday to keep students have from having to wait for the bus in the freezing temperatures

During times of cold temperatures, the homeless are at risk because prolonged exposure can caused hypothermia and frostbite.

Volunteers with the Durham Rescue Mission hit the streets Thursday afternoon, urging the homeless to come into the shelter as part of "Operation Warm Shelter." Twenty-homeless man stayed at the facility overnight and also got good warm clothing and food.

The Raleigh Rescue Mission usually houses 30 people at night. Officials said they expect at least 45 people to take shelter there. With space limited the shelter holds a lottery system in addition to the line which is first-come-first-serve.

Pets, too, are at risk from cold weather. Elderly and young pets and those with short hair are most vulnerable, but all breeds can be hurt by cold.

"Below freezing is typically when it becomes too cold for our pets," said Vanessa Budnick, humane educator for the Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "But in a place like North Carolina, where those temperatures are less common, a pet can be less acclimated to those temperatures."

Inside the home, be sure to take steps to keep your pipes from freezing, including unhooking outside hoses and keeping a pencil-sized, steady stream of water flowing through the highest faucet in the house.

Be careful with space heaters, which pose a fire danger: They cause a fifth of home-heating fires and account for 75 percent of deaths from those fires.