RALEIGH — North Carolina has plunged into the deep freeze, although the state won’t stay in the icebox too long.
The cold weather, high winds and heavy demand led to power outages across the state Tuesday. At the peak, major utilities in North Carolina reported more than 22,000 customers without electricity on the coldest morning of the year.
Duke Energy reported more about 17,000 customers without service in western North Carolina. The utility had about 5,500 customers without service in the area previously served by Progress Energy on Tuesday morning. But by the afternoon, less than 1,000 North Carolina customers remained without power. Utility officials asked customers to conserve as much power as possible during the cold snap to prevent more problems.
The cold caused many school to delay opening. The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro closed as well as Appalachian State University in Boone.
Employees at one state government office building in Raleigh came to work to find temperatures in the mid-40s after problems with the heat. Crews restored heat to a section of the Old Revenue Building complex across the street from the old Capitol, but it was taking a while to warm back up.
The coldest weather Tuesday morning was found at North Carolina’s highest point, where Mount Mitchell reported a low of minus 24. Grandfather Mountain fell to minus 17, while Boone dipped to 8 below zero.
Asheville reported a low of minus 1, which broke a record for the day set in 1879. The airport in Greensboro set a record with a low of 5 degrees, Charlotte’s airport set a record low at 8 degrees and Raleigh’s airport also reach a record low at 9 degrees.
Highs across the state didn’t get above freezing Tuesday. Forecasters expect one more bitterly cold night, although Wednesday morning’s lows shouldn’t break records. There is warmer weather ahead, as temperatures are expected to return to normal or above normal by the weekend.