After frigid cold, area braces for snow


By William F. West
Staff Writer

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Area residents already shivering after the coldest day in four decades now are bracing for the first snowstorm of the year.

Between 2 and 4 inches of snow are expected to fall on the Elizabeth City area between Wednesday night and Thursday morning, the National Weather Service reported Tuesday afternoon. A winter storm warning will be in effect for the area Wednesday afternoon through 1 p.m. on Thursday.

At least one school district — the Perquimans County Schools — canceled classes for students on Wednesday. Other school districts were waiting on updated weather data before announcing closings.

Anticipating potentially hazardous road conditions for motorists, N.C. Department of Transportation crews began treating the region’s main highways and bridges with brine on Tuesday.

Glenn Cooke, NCDOT’s acting county maintenance engineer at the Pasquotank County Maintenance Yard, said crews in Currituck put down brine Tuesday on U.S. Highway 158 and N.C. Highway 168, N.C. 34 and N.C. 615 on Knotts Island.

Cooke said crews will be putting down brine across Pasquotank and Camden counties on Wednesday. Those roads include U.S. Highway 17, U.S. 17 Bypass, U.S. 158, Halstead Boulevard Extended, Halstead Boulevard, Weeksville Road and N.C. Highway 343.

While most of the attention is on the snow expected to arrive on Wednesday, the focus Monday was on the region’s extremely frigid temperatures.

National Weather Service data posted online Monday showed temperatures in Elizabeth City bottomed out 13 degrees at 11:58 p.m. That’s six degrees below the record set on New Year’s Day in 1977.

Normally, the low temperature for New Year’s Day in Elizabeth City is 32.

A National Weather Service meteorologist in Wakefield, Virginia, said the bone-chilling conditions in Elizabeth City are going to continue into this weekend.

“We’re dealing with kind of an extended period of cold weather here, as we’ve had pretty much a Canadian or an Arctic air mass that has driven south,” Jonathan McGee said. “And it has pretty much overwhelmed us here in the last several days.”

While the AccuWeather forecast for Elizabeth City called for a low of 15 degrees Tuesday night, temperatures will be a little warmer both today and tonight.

The forecast for Wednesday calls for a high of 40, but because of wind chill will feel like 34 degrees. Tonight’s low will reach 27, but will feel like 13 because of the wind chill.

As for precipitation on Wednesday, McGee expects a mixture of rain and sleet in the afternoon becoming snow after sundown. Flurries will continue through the night, he said.

Conditions will remain cold on Thursday, with the high reaching 36 but feeling like 22 because of the wind chill.

“If we get lucky, we’ll get back close to freezing,” McGee said.

Thursday evening’s low will dip to 12, but feel like 5 below zero because of the wind chill.

The frigid conditions will continue on Friday, with the high only expected to be 28. The low will be 10 but feel like 6 below zero because of the wind chill.

Don’t look for warmer temperatures until Monday, when the high is expected to reach 55.

The cold temperatures are keeping at least one local business busy.

Pennie Layden, of McPherson Enterprizes Plumbing and Trenching, said the company had approximately 10 workers out responding to service calls on Tuesday.

“We are pretty busy,” Layden said. “The phones have been consistent as far as calls coming in. We’re having a lot of (calls about) frozen pipes already.”

Layden said the company is trying to make elderly residents without water its priority.

To protect against frozen pipes, Layden advised residents to drip their water faucets, particularly at night.

She then had to cut the phone interview short.

“I’ve got another call coming through as we speak,” she said.