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Record-challenging cold to raise risk of frozen pipes, water main bursts in southern US

By Alex Sosnowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
January 09, 2017, 10:07:01 AM EST


    Temperatures will continue to plunge to dangerously low and damaging levels into Monday in the wake of the snowstorm over the southern United States.

    Those without power in the wake of the winter storm could face additional hardship due to the severe cold. The extremely low temperatures will increase the risk of frozen pipes.

    Despite sunshine, travel will remain slick and hazardous on untreated roads and sidewalks in the Carolinas. Snow and ice will be slow to melt into Monday due to persistent subfreezing temperatures.

    Any wet or slushy spots that do form during the day will quickly turn icy at night.


    During Sunday night, temperatures will dip into the lower teens and single digits in much of central and northern North Carolina and southern and western Virginia for a second consecutive night. Some record lows will be challenged.

    "The lowest temperatures will occur when there is fresh snow cover, little to no wind and the sky remains clear," according to AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams.

    record lows jan 8

    In some of the outlying areas from north of Raleigh, North Carolina, to Richmond, Virginia, temperatures will reach or dip below zero F at the start of Monday.

    "Temperatures in Richmond, Virginia, have not dropped down to near zero since late January 2000," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.

    During Monday morning, the temperature dipped to zero at Richmond, which set a record for the date. Danville, Virginia, dipped to minus 1, which broke the old record of 6 set in 1970.

    At this level, not only can the cold air be painful, but hypothermia can also occur in people who are not properly dressed. Frostbite can occur on exposed skin if outdoors for an extended duration. People should wear multiple layers of clothes, including a hat and gloves.

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    Pipes that are above ground or in unheated or poorly insulated areas of homes and businesses are at greatest risk to freeze and burst. Leaving the water drip and keeping cabinets open might be enough to prevent costly damage and repairs.

    In some cases, where the ground freezes and heaves, water mains could burst.

    While the frigid air will linger through Monday across the Carolinas, temperatures during Monday night will not be as extreme as the weekend levels.

    Temperatures are projected to moderate on Tuesday, then rebound to above-average levels later this week. Places that were buried with snow this weekend will see temperatures soar into the 60s later this week.

    As the snow begins to melt, residents should clear storm drains to prevent street flooding.

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