Schools on 2-hour delay Tuesday as county faces below-zero wind chill

James Johnson Staff writer

January 5, 2014

LUMBERTON — Students who attend the Public Schools of Robeson County will get to sleep late on Tuesday as the system will operate on a two-hour delay in response to wind-chill temperatures that have not been experienced in Southeastern North Carolina in 20 years.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will dip into the teens tonight and overnight on Tuesday. The plunge has already begun.

The National Weather Service says that today’s mild temperatures of about 55 degrees will drop to a low of about 15 degrees overnight as a cold front arrives. Those temperatures, combined with scattered showers and 15 to 18 mph winds, will give the feeling of below-zero temperatures, according to Josh Weiss, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington. Tuesday won’t bring any relief as it is expected to be the coldest day of the week, with a high of 29 degrees and low of 14 degrees, though skies will be clear.

“When you get weather this cold, you definitely want to take the precautions, especially if you are working outdoors,” Weiss said. “Dress in layers and try not to stay outside too long as it is possible to suffer frostbite in these kind of temperatures.”

Some precautions to keep in mind for today and Tuesday include covering up plants, opening pipes to prevent freezing water and keeping pets indoors.

Duke Energy’s representatives are cautioning residents to be prepared for the chance of scattered power outages because of the weather and increased demand.

“It is a good opportunity to make sure you have supplies, flashlights, a radio with batteries, and to check with any family members, neighbors or friends who may be older to ensure that they have an emergency plan,” said Paige Sheehann, spokesperson for Duke Energy. “If people try to bring generators or gas grills inside their homes they should be careful to follow instructions so as to avoid the potential for carbon monoxide poisoning.”

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension is not expecting major crop damage.

“Really, the only two field crops that are of concern right now are rapeseed and winter wheat, though both of those are cool season crops,” said Mac Malloy, a crops agent with the Cooperative Extension. “We will just have to wait and see, but they are in the early stages of growth so they would still have the ability to recover.”

Malloy added that strawberry farmers will be using row covers, but again stressed that the cold front was not a “drastic concern.”

The Lumberton Christian Care Center on East First Street is relaxing admission standards to make it easier for those without homes to sleep in one of 16 available beds.

“Usually they have to go through the Police Department … but with it being so cold tonight, all they have to do is come down here,” said Leroy Dixon, who manages the center. “It will be first-come, firs-serve, so they should get here early.”

The center will begin accepting guests at 7 p.m. today.

According to the school system, athletic events are not expected to be affected.

A warming trend will begin on Wednesday, with a high of 41 degrees, and temperatures will inch upward from there throughout the week, with Thursday having highs in the lower 50s, Friday having highs in the upper 50s, and both Saturday and Sunday experiencing highs in the lower 60s.