Searching for bread in the record cold

Published 1:49 pm Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Payback is….well, you know.

The winter of 2017 was one of the mildest on record. There were multiple days where the temperature felt more like spring.

Now, 12 months later the proverbial table has turned.

Sure, we experienced a rare 70-plus degree day this past Friday, Jan. 12. Then the bottom fell out 24 hours later as Saturday’s overnight low was in the teens. On Sunday the old thermometer struggled to reach the mid 30’s and the National Weather Service has snow showers in our forecast on Wednesday of this week.

Typically, northeastern North Carolina enjoys basically mild winters. Sure, there are exceptions to every rule….case in point is Jan. 21, 1985 where the record all-time low temperature was established at minus eight degrees in Jackson, according to the National Weather Service. It was a “balmy” seven below and even a “toasty” five below that same day in Murfreesboro and Lewiston respectively.

We came awfully close to tying that record on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 7. It was seven-below at Tri-County Airport just before sunrise that morning. I had a reading of four-below at my home in Northampton County. I heard one man say it was minus-11 at his house up in Franklin, VA.

That was the same time period where we had a string of seven days where the mercury was below freezing during the day. I heard multiple stories of homeowners experiencing frozen pipes. A few of the more unlucky ones lost their homes due to fire, including my good friends Ed and Teresa Evans up in Como.

January 21, 1985 also stands as the coldest day ever in the state of North Carolina. That record (minus 34 degrees) was established on Mount Mitchell in Yancey County.

Then there was Christmas of 1989 (Dec. 25-26) when the low temp reached one above zero across the R-C area.

What makes folks go crazy at the grocery store when the weatherman predicts snow? Just before the winter storm hit on Wednesday-Thursday (Jan. 3-4), if you were brave enough to enter a local supermarket, chances are you discovered the bread aisle completely empty. Ditto for the milk section.

By Friday, things were back to normal. Wonder how much bread was tossed out the back door to feed the birds or how much milk spoiled for lack of use?

And snowfall brings another local dilemma….driving. We have several – make that numerous – motorists who struggle with that skill, even in dry conditions. Add some packed snow (which turns to a sheet of ice when the temp fails to rise above freezing) to the roads and hold on!!

I had a bad case of “white knuckle” driving while reporting to work on the heels of the winter storm earlier this month. I puttered along about 30 mph and hung on for dear life. Most folks did the same, but there were a few who were apparently two bricks shy of a load and motored along at the posted speed (55 mph) on our open roads.

I can’t control how others drive, but they need to at least have some smidgen of consideration for their fellow motorists. If you start sliding sideways because your lack of brain cells failed to comprehend that icy roads aren’t the place to exceed a safe speed and you wind up slamming into me or blocking my direction of travel, then you ought to turn in your driver’s license and start commuting on two feet instead of four wheels.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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