Temperatures tumbled across the region on Thursday after a burst of polar area that's hit other areas of the country spilled into the Carolinas.
That will lead the region into the coldest weather of the season Thursday. The arctic air mass will push temperatures 10 to 20 degrees below normal, according to the National Weather Service.
Thursday’s high is predicted to be 28 degrees, which is 23 degrees below normal for this time of year, Outlaw said. The low will be 10, which is 21 degrees below normal.
There are two threats from this cold – the wind chill, which will be a problem until midday Thursday; and the prolonged cold, which will be a problem for water pipes and heating systems.
It won’t get above 30 degrees in most areas Thursday afternoon, and it will drop into the teens again Friday morning. The weather service warned people to prepare for possible power outages or disruptions.
Duke Energy is asking its 4 million customers in the Carolinas to reduce their electricity use over the next 24 hours.
Duke’s plan to manage the extreme conditions includes running all available generating units, triggering voluntary customer programs that reduce electricity demand and buying power from other utilities.
Preparing for the cold
The incoming cold snap has local groups from shelters to schools in preparation mode.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is not anticipating changes to class schedules.
Caldwell County Schools will operate on a two-hour delay Thursday, as will its before- and after-school programs.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s emergency management director, Jeff Dulin, urged people to sign up for alerts at charmeckalerts.org to receive weather, emergency and other updates by phone, email or text. At the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, executive director Carson Dean said his agency is ready to handle any increase in usage at the two shelters it runs.
The Humane Society of Charlotte recommends that people keep their pets indoors during cold weather.
Local officials also reminded people of these tips:
• Keep fresh batteries on hand for flashlights and weather radios.
• If pipes are vulnerable to freezing, keep the faucet at a slow drip. Plumbers say it’s best to use the faucet farthest from where water enters the house. And never use an open flame to thaw a pipe.
• Do not burn charcoal indoors because that can produce carbon monoxide fumes.
• Keep at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food at home.
• Keep electric generators outside and away from any open windows or doors.
• Keep cellphones charged.
• Make sure space heaters are in good working order. In the past five years, 1 of every 7 space heater fires caused a death, according to Medic.
• When the sun is shining Thursday, keep your blinds open on sunny sides of the house. The solar heat will help warm your home.
Staff writers Bruce Henderson and Andrew Dunn contributed.