- Associated Press - Sunday, January 8, 2017

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - A bitter cold is following the weekend snow and ice storm in North Carolina, where schools, government offices and college campuses are closed because temperatures are too low to help clear the roads.

Temperatures could reach lows not seen since January 1985 when a record cold spread across the state. Because of the cold, 40 additional people sought shelter Saturday at the Durham Rescue Mission, said Rob Tart, the mission’s chief operating officer. That’s in addition to the 284 men, women and children already staying at the shelter and participating in its programs, such as addiction treatment and vocational training.

“We’re reaching out to anybody who needs a place to stay,” Tart said Sunday. The beds are full, but the shelter has space on the floor and plenty of blankets, he said.

Shelter workers handed out fliers at homeless camps before the storm to encourage people to come in from the cold, he said. On Monday, they’ll take people shopping at the shelter’s thrift store so they’ll have warm clothing, he said.

Many public school systems across the state are closed or opening late Monday, and North Carolina State University canceled classes for the day.

The National Weather Service tweeted a list of low temperatures Sunday that ranged from 3 degrees in Roxboro to 17 degrees in Fayetteville. Temperatures were expected to be even lower Monday when the lows could be zero or below in places as far east as the Triad.

The snow cover on the ground will help push temperatures down a few degrees, forecasters said.

The last time Greensboro hit zero degrees was on Jan. 19, 1994. The city has hit zero or below only 14 times since 1903, when weather record-keeping began. The lowest temperature ever in Greensboro was 8 degrees below zero on Jan. 21, 1985. The state’s record low of minus 34 was set that day on Mount Mitchell.

Power outages dropped during the day Sunday, with Duke Energy reported about 2,400 as of Sunday afternoon and Dominion reporting under 300 customers without power.

Snow totals included 12.5 inches on Mount Mitchell, with double digits also reported farther east in Guilford County, where 11 inches of snow fell.

In western North Carolina, rescuers found two hikers missing for more than a day without food and water and only a small fire for warmth. The North Carolina Emergency Response Team said in a news release that a helicopter using a tool that can detect heat found the hikers around 5 p.m. Saturday in the Shining Rock Wilderness area about 25 miles southwest of Asheville.

Authorities said the hikers had called 911 on Friday and again Saturday morning, saying their situation was getting dire. But the helicopter couldn’t fly until the storm that dumped about 7 inches of snow in the area cleared.

It took rescuers about two hours to get to the men. They were taken to the hospital, and authorities did not know their conditions.

The winter storm provided a break to victims of Hurricane Matthew when federal authorities announced they had moved the deadline to apply for disaster assistance from the October storm. Gov. Roy Cooper says the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the state’s request for a 14-day extension, putting the new deadline at Jan. 23.

This was the second extension granted to help victims of the hurricane. The state requested more time for survivors because of a notable dip in registrations during the holiday season.

The new deadline applies to homeowners, renters and businesses submitting applications for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Registration is open to survivors in 45 counties designated for individual assistance.


Jeffrey Collins in Columbia, South Carolina, contributed to this report.


Follow Martha Waggoner on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

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