By JOY CRIST
After a prolonged period of freezing that followed the winter storm on Thursday, January 4, islanders were anxiously awaiting the forecasted warmer temperatures on Monday, and hopefully a big accompanying thaw.
Dare County Schools remained closed on Monday, and the North Carolina Ferry System reported a cease in operations in several routes over the weekend, including the Hatteras-Ocracoke route, due to freezing waters. Dare County Offices and most facilities, however, will return to normal operating hours beginning on Monday, January 8 at 8:30 a.m. Garbage service for Hatteras Island customers will also resume a regular schedule starting on Monday.
The winter storm and subsequent freeze broke several records in the Outer Banks area. The record low temperature of 19 degrees was tied at Cape Hatteras on Saturday, and Hatteras Island reported hurricane wind-force gusts during Thursday’s storm, which includes a 77 mph recorded gust in the tri-village area.
Many locals attested that they had never seen the Pamlico Sound waters frozen for so far, or for so long, with ice extending as far as the eye could see. An aerial survey reported that the sound was frozen for up to .75 miles in some areas, and islanders brave enough to venture out into the cold could be spotted “walking on water” throughout the islands.
The thaw may be initially slow, but warmer air temperatures are finally heading to the islands starting on Monday, with temperatures in the mid to high 40s throughout the day and night.
The warmer temperatures will continue to climb in the next few days, and will reach the 60s by the end of the week.
Roads on Hatteras Island were traversable on Monday morning, although travelers should note that there is still ice in spots, including area bridges and the northern Outer Banks region. With many secondary roads still covered in snow and ice, icy conditions will persist throughout Monday, particularly on the northern beaches and the mainland.
For more information on the warmer upcoming weather, visit www.weather.gov/mhx for weather forecast information, or the National Weather Service office in Newport / Morehead City’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/NWSMoreheadCity/