CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Most West Virginians woke up to subzero temperatures on Tuesday -- and for some, the day that followed was filled with frozen water pipes, cars that wouldn't start and desperate attempts to stay warm.
But the biggest problem for many West Virginians was power outages. Thousands of people woke up without electricity in temperatures that were the coldest the state had seen in nearly two decades.
Appalachian Power, which supplies electricity to most of the southern half of West Virginia, reported 3,665 customers without power Tuesday morning, including hundreds in Cabell, Mercer and Raleigh counties.
"The highest demand for power seems to be early-morning hours," said Appalachian Power spokesman Phil Moye. "And today that's when we had the most outages."
PJM Interconnection, which operates the power grid in West Virginia and other states, asked users around the region to conserve electricity on Tuesday afternoon.
By Tuesday evening, Apco had restored power to most places in West Virginia except Lincoln County, where nearly 2,000 customers remained without power.
FirstEnergy, which supplies power to much of the northern and eastern parts of the state, listed more than 5,700 customers without electricity this morning, with many of those in Pocahontas and Mineral counties. By evening, that was down to fewer than 900 customers, with nearly 600 in Gilmer County.
"The repairs are not as difficult as you would think for a winter storm," Moye said. "It's not a lot of trees down and broken poles -- it's changing out equipment."
That seemed to be a common refrain among state officials -- despite the brutal cold, things could have been worse.
"We still want folks to take it slow, but we really haven't had any major issues today," said state Division of Highways spokeswoman Carrie Bly. "Which is surprising and good. Most of our major routes are OK."
Bly said most Interstates and major highways were clear by Tuesday afternoon, but some secondary roads still had some snow and ice. In all, the state's roads were "pretty good," she said.
Lawrence Messina, communications director for the state Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety, said there were no reports of weather-related deaths or major accidents overnight.
Fire officials were still trying to decide if a fire in Logan County that killed an elderly woman was related to the weather, Messina said. Claire Dingess, 90, died in the overnight fire, according to the state Fire Marshal's Office. The fire began in a laundry room and appears to have been accidental, officials said.
Charleston's low temperature of 3 degrees below zero matched the city's lowest for Jan. 7, a record set in 1942. It was the city's lowest temperature on any date since February 1996.
Huntington (minus 4) and Parkersburg (minus 6) set records for the date, as did Morgantown (minus 7), Beckley (minus 9) and Wheeling (minus 10), according to the National Weather Service. The morning low at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County reached 20 degrees below zero, according to the Weather Service.
Another ski resort, Canaan Valley, in Davis, closed its slopes because of dangerous conditions, said West Virginia Ski Areas Association spokesman Joe Stevens.
Canaan ski instructor Bill Smith said the combination of 18-below-zero readings and high winds made it feel like 70 below overnight. Readings had rebounded to minus 4 by midafternoon.
"The cold wasn't all that bad," Smith said. "It was the wind."
Smith, who's been a professional skier for 35 years and also runs the Tucker County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he believes the last time the resort shut down its slopes was in the 1980s.
"It's hard on the employees as well as the guests," Smith said. "I think it's a good move instead of taking a chance."