One of the Coldest Januaries on Record So Far, Also: Beware of Walking on Frozen Ponds, Lakes, Rivers

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Warnings of thin ice have been posted along bodies of water all across the High Country due to one of coldest Januaries on record. Photos by Ken Ketchie

By Jesse Wood

Jan. 28, 2014. Frozen seems to be the word of the month as the bitter cold weather has turned lakes and waterways in the High Country into sheets of ice.

While the final figures won’t be ready until February begins, it is safe to say that Boone – and likely surrounding communities – will have experienced one of the coldest Januaries since record keeping began in at least the ‘30s, according to data compiled by Ray’s Weather Center.

As of Jan. 25 – before the latest set of frigid temps, this January weather has averaged a low temperature of 14.3 degrees, which is just above the average 13.7-degree temps of 1940 and quite a bit higher than the epic 11.8-degree low in January of 1977. 

Below is the average low temperature rankings for Boone regarding past Januaries: 

  • 1977: 11.84
  • 1940: 13.65
  • 2014: 14.32 (as of Jan. 25)
  • 1978: 14.61
  • 1985: 16.00
  • 1956: 16.00
  • 1994: 16.87
  • 1966: 17.23
  • 2003: 18.00
  • 1979: 18.03

By the time the month ends, the days below 10 degrees will be in the double digits, which would rank at least third since record keeping began. In 1977, 14 days were spent under 10 degrees. 1940 had 11 days, and 1978 had 10 days in the single digits.

Another measure that Ray’s Weather Center has compiled to rank this cold snap in history is the overall average temperature. Here’s how 2014 January ranks in the top-ten in recorded history. Note, yet again, that the 2014 average temperature this month is as of Jan. 25.

  • 1977: 20.1935
  • 1940: 22.8065
  • 1978: 24.3226
  • 1985: 24.7581
  • 1994: 25.9839
  • 2014: 26.1053 (as of Jan. 25)
  • 1956: 26.6333
  • 1966: 26.7500
  • 2010: 26.8226
  • 1981: 27.3220

While David Still, a meteorologist with Ray’s Weather, said the conditions haven’t personally felt brutal in January, he mentioned that this month’s climate has been “one for the ages … on paper.”

Beware of Thin Ice

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Folks walk on Trout Pond this January. Photo by Ken Ketchie

As the pictures below depict, many of the lakes and rivers in the High Country have at least partially iced over, allowing folks to play or take a stroll on the ice. 

This morning, the U.S. Forest Service sent out a press release “discouraging visitors” to the Pisgah National Forest from walking on ice formed along lakes and rivers.

“Walking on ice is extremely dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. Visitors who walk on ice run the risk of falling through the ice and drowning or suffering hypothermia,” the release noted.

Blowing Rock Fire Chief Kent Graham mentioned that he has seen ice-related incidents in the past that “range all the way from close calls to unbelievably tragic.”

In January 2010, a man fell through the ice of a frozen Trout Lake in Blowing Rock while walking with his four dogs and 9-year-old son. One of the dogs ran out onto the ice and the man chased after and fell through the ice. While the dog and young boy were unharmed, the man drowned. 

In close proximity to the Blue Ridge Parkway, Blowing Rock has numerous lakes nearby such as Price Lake, Trout Lake, Bass Lake and so forth. 

“The bodies of water that we have in our district are certainly of concern because they are larger open bodies of water that are more publicly accessible to visitors and citizens in the area,” Graham said. “The concerns are very serious … it’s something that should be taken a lot more seriously.”

Graham mentioned that public education and awareness on this issue is important because as is the case in other emergency situations, prevention is needed more so than response.   

“What we need is prevention in the first place,” Graham noted, adding that the local emergency responders are equipped with emergency wet suits and are designated by the state has ice and water rescue specialists. 

See more photos below by Ken Ketchie and Jesse Wood

Photos below by Ken Ketchie

The sun peaks through the clouds above Trout Lake in Blowing Rock.

The sun peaks through the clouds above Trout Lake in Blowing Rock.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Bass Lake

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Bass Lake

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Bass Lake

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Bass Lake

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Lake near downtown Blowing Rock

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Lake near downtown Blowing Rock

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Trout Lake

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

People walk on the ice of Trout Pond. Blowing Rock Fire Chief Kent Graham might say this is the opposite of playing with fire but just as dangerous.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

People walk on the ice of Trout Pond.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

People walk on the ice of Trout Pond.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Geese walk on the Mill Pond in Banner Elk.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Mill Pond

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

A sign warns of walking on the ice of Mill Pond in Banner Elk.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Ducks enjoy the winter weather at Chetola.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

A sign warns of walking on thin ice of Chetola Lake.

 

Photo by Ken Ketchie

Chetola Lake is aerated for fish, but it also keeps the entire lake from freezing.


 Photos below by Jesse Wood

The spillway off of Old Watauga River Road.

The spillway off of Old Watauga River Road.

 

Trashcan Falls, a popular swimming hole, is frozen on Tuesday morning.

Trashcan Falls, a popular swimming hole, is frozen on Tuesday morning.

 

Ducks huddle together in the frigid water of the Duck Pond.

Ducks huddle together in the frigid water of the Duck Pond.

 

Duck Pond is frozen.

Duck Pond is frozen.

 

A sign warns college students to stay off of the Duck Pond on the campus of ASU.

A sign warns college students to stay off of the Duck Pond on the campus of ASU.

 

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Beware of the spillway. This sign warns tubers and kayakers of the spillway along Watauga River in Sugar Grove.

 

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Upstream of the spillway.

 

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The Watauga River is a sheet of ice upstream of the spillway.

 

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This is upstream to Trashcan Falls along Laurel Creek.

 

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Laurel Creek has been frozen in spots for at least a week.

 

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Near the intersection of Rominger and Old Watauga River roads, the Watauga River is also frozen in sections.

 

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A pond along Laurel Creek Road is frozen solid.

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