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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Record cold is coming
Low of 5 likely Monday night

Sunday, January 5, 2014

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

The coldest weather in years is headed this way, with temperatures expected to tumble into the single digits Monday and Tuesday nights.

Winds will make it feel even colder Monday night, and Tuesday will be frigid as well.

Meteorologists are saying the chill could be historic, with temperatures reaching their lowest points in 25 years.

For Henry County and Martinsville, the National Weather Service forecasts a low of 5 degrees Monday night, a daytime high of 18 degrees Tuesday and a low of 8 degrees Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

Winds as high as 10 mph are predicted Monday night. That could make the “wind chill” — how the cold feels to exposed skin — about 10 degrees below zero, information provided by the weather service shows.

Patrick County is expected to see a low of 4 degrees Monday night, a high of 16 degrees during the day on Tuesday and a low of 11 degrees Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, the forecast shows.

Winds are expected to be similar there.

If temperatures reach those levels, they will be record-breaking, said Dennis Sleighter, a meteorologist at the weather service office in Blacksburg.

Weather service records show that for Jan. 7 (Tuesday), the record low for Danville is 10 degrees, set in 1969, while the lowest high temperature seen on that date was 26 degrees in 1988.

Those are the official records for all of southern Virginia. The weather service does not keep records for other area localities.

Normal high temperatures for this time of year are in the upper 40s while normal low temperatures are around 30, Sleighter said.

An arctic front is the source of the cold weather.

Sleighter said he had no information showing exactly how often temperatures fall into the teens and single digits locally.

Make sure your home is ready for the cold spell, said Mark Nolen, retail manager for Ace Hardware/Heritage Home Center in Bassett.

Any water pipes exposed to the cold should be wrapped with insulation or a “heat tape” designed to raise the temperature of pipes, Nolen said.

Hoses should be disconnected from outdoor faucets to keep water trapped inside from backing up into pipes, causing them to burst, he said.

Make sure insulation surrounds doors and windows. Without it, Nolen said, “you’ll tax your heating system,” leading to a higher electric or fuel bill.

People without electric or gas heat should make sure they have ample fuel — such as wood, kerosene or heating fuel — on hand, he said.

These things “should have been done in October” before winter arrived, he added, “but many people don’t think about it until it actually turns cold.”

Nolen also reminds people to bring in pets which usually stay outside.

Today’s high temperature is expected to be in the low 40s, but rain is in the forecast for most of the day. Temperatures were forecast to drop to slightly below freezing early today, so freezing rain is likely this morning.

The weather service has issued a freezing rain advisory until noon today. Little to no ice accumulation is expected, but roads could be a little slick in the morning, the advisory shows.

On Wednesday, temperatures are forecast to gradually warm to normal or higher levels as the weather starts being dominated by the southern branch of the jet stream — high altitude winds — instead of the northern one.

That trend may continue for a couple of weeks, Sleighter said, adding that computer models indicate next Saturday’s high temperature could be in the upper 50s.


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