Official low of 3 breaks record

Tom Joyce Staff Reporter

January 8, 2014

The frigid weather gripping the area shattered a nearly 60-year-old record Tuesday for the lowest temperature ever registered in Mount Airy on Jan. 7.

That low reading of 3 degrees above zero was logged Tuesday morning at F.G. Doggett Water Plant, the city’s official weather-monitoring station. This undercut a low of 4 which had been predicted.

The previous record for Jan. 7 here was 9 degrees, which occurred in 1954. That reading 59 years before actually tied a record that had been established in 1924, the first year weather records were kept in Mount Airy.

Even lower temperatures were reported elsewhere in the region, according to National Weather Service statistics. The mercury bottomed out at 6 degrees below zero Tuesday morning in Hillsville, Va., and it was even colder in Jefferson where the low was minus-7 degrees. A reading of 1 degree above zero was the low for North Wilkesboro.

Winston-Salem was a “hot spot” in the area Tuesday morning with a low of 6 above zero.

The chilly air temperature in Surry County was intensified by wind-chill readings of around 12 below zero overnight Monday. The weather prompted the closure of Mount Airy and Surry County schools Tuesday, which was the case elsewhere in the region.

Although this area has experienced some of its coldest temperatures in years, major issues have been avoided during the life-threatening conditions, according to Surry County Emergency Services Director John Shelton.

“So far, nobody has reported anything major to us,” Shelton said Tuesday. “So far no real crisis situations.”

But Shelton’s assessment was guarded. “Of course, we’ve got another night tonight,” he said of slightly warmer temperatures forecast overnight Tuesday — but still cold with an expected low of 13.

Shelters were designated in Mount Airy, Pilot Mountain and Elkin to provide a warm refuge to persons displaced by the cold, Shelton reported, but haven’t been needed in the absence of power outages or similar problems.

The Salvation Army in Mount Airy aided homeless persons Monday night in response to the extreme cold, he said.

Some medical emergencies have occurred, including situations involving chest pains and respiratory distress, but that is normal for this time of the year, the emergency services director said.

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