01/06/14 — Wayne will see lows in the teens

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Wayne will see lows in the teens

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 6, 2014 1:46 PM

Today's unseasonably mild weather will give way to bitter cold and wind chills of zero and below by early Tuesday,  and Wayne County residents are being cautioned to dress in several layers of clothing in addition to donning a hat and gloves.

This morning's mild 65 is expected to drop to 39 degrees by around 5 p.m., forecasters say. The temperature will continue to fall rapidly into the teens by midnight across the Coastal Plain and I-95 corridor with wind chills bottoming out at 0 to -5 degree or colder by sunrise Tuesday.

The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for 3 a.m. until noon Tuesday across central North Carolina.

A wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to  generate low wind chill readings that result in frostbite and lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken.

"I just moved here from Pittsburgh, Pa., and that is Pittsburgh weather," said Dr. Randy Swackhammer, a physician at Wayne Health Medical Clinic. "I have only been here two years and assume most people are not used to that. The best thing is to dress in layers to make sure that you don't have any exposed areas -- primarily the hands and face.

"You lose a lot of heat from your face and hands. You lose a lot of heat from your head. A lot of people don't think about that. But you can lose heat fast."

How quickly a person begins to feel the effect of the cold depends on how long they are exposed and how they are dressed, Dr. Swackhammer said. However, people could expect to start feeling the effects within 10 minutes.

"The people you need to really be concerned about are the very young or the very old," he said. "Their bodies are unable to acclimate to extreme cold."

Seniors are especially vulnerable to the extreme cold weather.

To make sure Wayne County's homebound seniors who receive Meals on Wheels are safe, volunteers delivering meals today checked to make sure the seniors had plenty of heat.

"If any of the seniors has a heating problem, the volunteers report it back to us here at WAGES," Meals on Wheels director Brownie Doss said. "And we find some help for them. Maybe their fuel is getting low and they need help with that."

Also of concern are homeless people who lack a warm place to stay, the doctor added.

Tammy Forrester of the Wayne County Chapter of the American Red Cross  said people should be preparing for the frigid temperatures.

She also advised dressing in layers and encouraged residents to minimize travel to prevent the possibility of being stranded.

She also said people should be prepared for power outages by having blankets and batteries for a radio or flashlight ready.

Ms. Forrester also reminded residents that they should be on the lookout for those who need help.

"The biggest thing is to recognize there are people out here, living in their cars or just living out here who are going to need a place to keep warm," she said.

Linda Burroughs of the Fordham House said the organization is putting up extra cots in case there is a need.

The Community Crisis Center will warm up people by serving a hot meal and hot drinks during its normal operating hours Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

"People can come in out of the cold and get warm," secretary Carolyn Buffalo said. "We do have a generator in case we lose power, then we'll still be able to have the center open."

In the past, when it's snowed a lot or when the weather has turned extremely cold, the Community Crisis Center has opened its building for homeless people to stay overnight on cots that have been donated. But nothing has been decided at this point about opening the center overnight tonight.

Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley said his department is ready, just in case there is an emergency call. Extreme temperatures can wreak havoc on firefighters and their equipment, he said.

"We're going to try to keep our bays warm, to keep the trucks warm and keep our water from freezing," Whaley said. "As far as the city's fire hydrants, they don't have water up in the barrels, its all in the ground below so we should be OK there."

He reminded residents that they should be extra careful as they try to stay warm.

"Residents should be careful with heaters, space heaters and alternate heat sources," the fire chief said. "Keep debris away from them, KeroSun and kerosene heaters take kerosene and not gasoline.

"And if you are using fireplaces or a wood heater make sure there is a screen to protect from wood popping out," Whaley said.

Pets are also affected by the freezing temperatures.

"Outdoor pets in this kind of weather are going to have to come inside somewhere -- the house, a garage, a laundry room," North Wayne Animal Hospital veterinarian Dr. Julia Black said. "They can't tolerate this kind of cold that we're going to have."

When temperatures dip to below freezing for any extended period of time, outdoor pets need to come in, and they need to stay indoors for as long as it's freezing weather outside, Dr. Black said.

"Even if the wind chill is below freezing, they don't need to be out for any long period of time," she said.

While an outdoor pet is inside, be sure to have plenty of fresh water for it.

"An outdoor pet that's brought inside will drink more water," Dr. Black said.

If a dog is an indoor pet, it doesn't need to go out for any long period of time either.

"Let them out to go to the bathroom and bring them right back in," Dr. Black said. "You wouldn't want your pet out for any longer than you would want a person out for."

If an indoor pet has a sweater or coat, the pet can wear that for addtional protection against the cold.

Temperatures are expected to moderate to more seasonable temperatures of near 54 by Friday and reaching 60 by Saturday and 64 by Sunday.

--News-Argus staff writers Becky Barclay and John Joyce contributed to this report.