Another surge of arctic air moved into the Carolinas on Thursday, bringing what forecasters say will be the coldest weather yet in the current polar blast.
Yet another round of cold weather is expected early next week, after a brief recovery from frigid conditions over the weekend.
Officials with utility companies asked the public to conserve their use of electricity, to preserve the supply and blunt the impact of high energy bills in coming months.
Wind chill advisories are in effect across the mountains, where temperatures early Friday are expected to drop near zero. Wind chill readings could drop to -20 degrees in some places, forecasters said.
The forecast low in Charlotte on Friday morning is 11 degrees, and meteorologists said temperatures probably will not reach freezing in the afternoon.
The Carolinas and the rest of the eastern United States have been locked in the deep freeze all week, after record-setting cold earlier in January.
Meteorologists said the jet stream has been delivering a consistent run of cold fronts into the eastern half of the country for several days.
“This will result in prolonged cold wave conditions,” said Harry Gerapetritis, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.
Forecasters say temperatures will recover a bit this weekend, climbing into the middle and upper 40s in the Charlotte region. But another cold air mass will arrive Monday evening, setting the stage for frigid conditions again next Tuesday and Wednesday.
For some local officials, the cold wave has been too much.
Union County officials said they are turning off the water to the campground at Cane Creek Park when temperatures fall below 32 degrees, saying many of the water lines supplying campsites are exposed to the cold.
“Taking these precautionary steps allows the park staff to keep the campground open and still serve campers with the least amount of disruption possible, while protecting water supply lines from bursting,” said Parks and Recreation Director Bill Whitley.
Officials with Duke Energy and EnergyUnited have been urging customers to keep a lid on their electricity use. They suggest turning down the thermostat a bit, postponing use of major electric appliances until midday or late evening, and turning off lights and appliances that aren’t needed.
“In situations like these, voluntary energy conservation is the best-case scenario for both EnergyUnited and our members,” said H. Wayne Wilkins, the company’s CEO.
Both Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas set single-day use records Jan. 7, when the temperature fell to 6 degrees in Charlotte. Duke officials said the number of heating degree days – a way of measuring power use – was 52 percednt higher for the first 22 days of January, compared to the same period in 2013.
In the North Carolina mountains, the steady stream of cold fronts also has produced several days of off-and-on snow showers. Classes have been cancelled several days this week in the Ashe, Avery and Watauga county systems.
Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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