What forecasters termed “life-threatening” cold began a two-day visit to the Triangle overnight, and temperatures fell into the teens. Low, single-digit readings were in the forecast for Friday morning.
“It’s very dangerous cold,” ABC11 meteorologist Chris Hohmann said. “You really need to take it seriously.”
Wake, Durham, Chatham, Franklin, Orange, Johnston, Harnett and Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools closed again Thursday.
The thermometer will climb only to 18 or 20 during the day Thursday, and it will feel more like 5 degrees with the wind chill effect, forecasters said.
“Thursday night is when it really turns cold,” National Weather Service meteorologist Nick Petro said. The Triangle will suffer “life-threatening” lows of 1 or 2 above zero, he said, with wind-chill readings around 10 below.
“These are all going to be breaking records,” Petro said as the official forecast said Thursday morning was the start of more than 60 hours of below-freezing weather.
The low reading at Raleigh-Durham International Airport for Friday’s date is 13 degrees in 1979. Thursday’s record is 11 degrees in the same year, and that appeared likely to stand.
With freezing winds that could cause frostbite and put lives at risk, local homeless shelters will post white flags signaling a pledge to take in everyone who seeks protection from the elements. Some shelters will lay out mats to use after their beds are filled. No one will be turned away.
State and local road crews took advantage of milder temperatures Wednesday to scrape up more slushy remnants from Monday night’s snow-and-sleet storm. A line of snow showers passed through the Triangle late Wednesday afternoon, leaving a fresh coat of white on lawns and other surfaces.
Traffic and wind dried a lot of the moisture, however, and black ice remained a spotty risk Thursday morning, not an overall condition.
“People still need to be cautious whether they are out driving or walking,” Frank Perry, the state public safety secretary, said in a news release. “The black ice is a very real threat and should be taken seriously.”
The slippery roads that prevented many drivers from getting out of their neighborhoods Tuesday also kept mail and package delivery drivers from getting in. Postal Service managers in the Triangle area reported that their carriers were unable to deliver mail for between 8 percent and 24 percent of the homes on their routes Tuesday, because of hazardous driving conditions.
Any ice still on our streets Thursday morning will probably linger at least until Saturday, when temperatures climb into the upper 30s.
“Sunday should be in the 50s, which will feel tropical then,” Hohmann said.