Residents endure freezing temps, brace for more

Published 8:02 am Friday, January 16, 2009

FRANKLIN—Dangerously cold temperatures arrived in our area Thursday, and are expected to stick around until at least the middle of next week, forecasters said.

At 3:28 a.m. Thursday the National Weather Service in Wakefield issued a hazardous weather outlook for a large swath of our region, stretching from northeast and coastal North Carolina to central and eastern Virginia, including Hampton Roads, Piedmont and the Eastern Shore.

The weather service said a mass of arctic air would arrive Thursday night, pulling evening low temperatures down to between 10 and 20 degrees. Wind chills will make it feel like it is in the single digits or teens outside.

High temperatures are only expected to reach into the uppers 20s or low 30s today, but wind chills will again make it feel much colder — in the teens to lower 20s, the weather service said.

Forecasters said Friday night would be the coldest period of time, with lows between the upper single digits and the teens.

Temperatures are expected to slowly moderate late in the weekend and into early next week. The last day for the hazardous weather outlook is Wednesday.

Kimberly Rideout, with Franklin Fire & Rescue, said paramedics use two methods to treat people with hypothermia, depending upon whether they are wet or dry.

“If the person is wet — like if they fell into a river or a lake — we’ll take the wet clothes off of them and cover them with blankets,” Rideout said. “If the person is dry we’ll do the best we can with blankets and hot compresses.”

Rideout urged people who use kerosene heaters to heat their homes to be extra cautious. The heaters must be kept away from objects that could catch fire. Special care is also needed when refueling the heaters.

“We have a lot of people, both in the city and in the county, who don’t have the safest ways to heat their homes,” Rideout said, referring to kerosene heaters.

The weather warning covers nine counties in North Carolina: Northampton, Hertford, Gates, Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, Bertie, Chowan and Perquimans.

In Virginia, the warning covers 26 counties, including Southampton and Isle of Wight and eight cities, including Franklin and Suffolk.