Deep freeze departs: Warm weather will wipe away winter white in Wilson

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Sometime after 10 a.m. Monday, Wilson climbed out of the freezer.

It was the first time the city had experienced temperatures above freezing since Dec. 30.

Temperatures Monday afternoon reached into the mid-40s, but the real thaw will come later in the week.

According to the National Weather Service, highs Tuesday will be in the low 50s across the area, and then there will be a little bit more of a cool-down on Wednesday with highs in the mid-40s.

Two days of radiant heating from direct sun will also help melt away much of the remaining snowfall around the county.

“That will help a lot,” said Gail Hartfield, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Raleigh.

“In the shaded ares you may still see some dirty snowballs sitting around there on the side of the road in some shaded areas even after tomorrow,” Hartfield said. “Thursday into Thursday night, we are looking at a pretty good chance of rain. That’s going to help wash out anything that remains. Thursday we are going to have quite a bit of a warmup. We’re going to get into the mid-60s Thursday and into Friday so it’s going to be mild and kind of wet, so that should get rid of anything that’s still out there.”

Hartfield said the recent period of cold weather was one for the record books.

At Raleigh-Durham International Airport, which experienced similar weather as Wilson, the record was broken for the consecutive number of hours at or below freezing, Hartfield said.

The old record was 157 hours and the new preliminary record from last week was 201 hours of temperatures at or below freezing. Records have been kept there since the 1940s.

“We have seen a strain on the city’s water system from the extended period of sub-freezing temperatures,” said Barry Parks, water resources director for the city of Wilson.

“Starting early last week, we began receiving numerous calls from residents about pipes bursting in homes. Those calls have escalated as the temperatures continued to get colder. “

Water resources crews have been working around the clock to respond to the calls, Parks said.

Sub-freezing temperatures have been a strain on the entire water infrastructure.

“Failures along the water lines are caused by drastic changes in temperatures for an extended period of time,” Parks said. “For the main water lines, it’s not the air temperature that causes concern but the ground temperature. Under typical conditions, the ground temperature stays relatively consistent, but not with the conditions we’ve seen for the past 10 days. The temperature swing causes the ground to shift, which then causes water lines to snap. It’s much the same as the factors that cause concrete to crack.”

City crews have been able to address the breaks that have been experienced so far.

“We are concerned about rising temperatures later in the week and anticipate more breaks as it warms up quickly,” Parks said. “We expect that as some frozen lines begin to thaw, we will see more leaks.”

Residents who suspect a water line break should call 252-399-2444 or report it on the Fix-It Wilson app, which is available on both iOS and Android devices.

Hartfield said there is no frozen precipitation in the forecast for the Wilson area in the near future.