Brrr

An unidentified woman makes a chilly trek through Uptown Beckley as bitterly cold temperatures descend on the state Thursday.

While the region may not break any records for low temperatures this week, it will come painfully close.

Honestly, does it really matter when you’re dealing with single digits and possibly sub-zero thermometer readings?

Cold is cold, especially when it’s bitter.

“It (today) will be the coldest day in quite some time,” National Weather Service meteorologist Chris Leonardi in Charleston said. Beckley’s warmest temperature is supposed to reach only 10 degrees today, and the overnight low was expected to dip to around five degrees below zero.

“We’re not expecting record lows, but it will be plenty cold,” he added. “Actually, it is quite cold, but the record low temperature for Beckley is 10 below zero or lower than that.”

A wind-chill advisory was issued for the Beckley area from Thursday night through this morning. The wind will make the temperature early this morning feel like it is 10 to 20 degrees below zero, Leonardi explained. The advisory will expire later in the morning as temperatures rise a bit.

Some snow showers will linger, but Leonardi does not expect any significant accumulation. “If snow does fall, it will be very fine.”

Jeff Stewart, a meteorologist in the Blacksburg, Va., NWS office, cautioned that the western mountains of Greenbrier County could experience subzero temperatures tonight. The wind-chill advisory there won’t expire until 3 p.m. today.

“We’re not looking for any records,” he noted of Greenbrier, Monroe and Summers counties. “Friday night looks like it will be around zero. Some parts of the mountains where elevations are above 2,500 feet will be below zero.”

Wind speeds of 10 to 15 mph, with occasional gusts up to 25 mph, are in the forecast for that area.

According to Stewart, using Bluefield as a reference point, the record low there for Jan. 16 is minus 13 degrees in 1972. The coldest recorded temperature for Jan. 17 is minus 18 degrees in 1982.

“If people think this is cold, they haven’t seen anything,” Stewart quipped, adding the coldest January temperature ever for Bluefield was minus 21 degrees on Jan. 21, 1985.

Leonardi recalled that Beckley’s last foray into sub-zero territory was nearly two years ago, on Feb. 6, 2007. At that time, it dipped to minus 2 degrees.

His advice? Stay indoors, if at all possible, and that includes your pets.

“Keep an eye on your pets. On a night like (tonight), keep them indoors if at all possible. On the coldest nights of the year, keep the pets indoors. Zero degrees is the same for them as it is for us.”

If you must be outdoors for any period of time, dress in layers and keep as little skin as possible exposed, Leonardi stated.

In terms of home-related issues, Leonardi advised an observant eye if you decide to use a portable electric heater. You should also keep a faucet drip going overnight if you have a home with exposed pipes so they don’t freeze and burst.

Relief from the cold may come as soon as Saturday, Leonardi reassured, with temperatures back up to the 30s again Sunday and Monday. “It will still be below normal but will be a little more tolerable.”

— E-mail: mhill@register-herald.com

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