Deep freeze: Lows expected to dip into 20s

Published 9:24 am Thursday, December 8, 2016

Dec. 21, the traditional first day of winter, is almost two weeks away, but Warren County residents will get a sampling of the deep chill Thursday and Friday night as a high pressure system carrying cold air passes through the area, bringing lows in the 20s and highs in the 40s.

“Tomorrow, during the daytime, we’ll probably see those temperatures climb up to about 45 degrees, and then we’ll see those temperatures cool off by the afternoon hours, and overnight, we’ll be looking at low temperatures about 25 degrees,” said Nicholas Fenner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Office in Jackson. He said some light rain is expected to accompany the front as it makes its way in Thursday, but no frozen precipitation is expected.

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The high Friday is expected to be about 40 degrees, with lows returning to the 20s at night.

“We will have a little bit of wind with it, there will definitely be some breezy conditions as the front comes through,” he said. “The winds should ease up overnight, but should contribute to a little bit of a wind chill. Right now, we’re looking at wind chills probably dropping into the teens early Friday morning.”

Officials with River City Rescue Mission and Mountain of Faith Ministries said they would provide help to the homeless seeking to get out of the cold.

“At times like this, we act as a shelter,” River City director Earnie Hall said. “Also, anyone who needs a meal can come to us for help.”

Because River City is a men’s program, he said, overnight accommodations will be for men only. Men needing shelter, or anyone needing a meal can contact River City at 601-636-6602.

Tina Hayward, director of Mountain of Faith, said the shelter will be open to men and women during the two days of extreme cold weather. Anyone needing shelter, she said, can call 601-501-4508, or 601-301-0060.

Fenner said temperatures will start warming Saturday with highs in the 50s and lows in the 30s, and the warm-up will continue Sunday with highs moving back in to the 60s, which is closer to the area’s normal temperatures.

The cold temperatures bring out several concerns involving the protection of pets and the care of pipes to prevent freezing during the cold snap.

“The best thing is to bring animals inside,” said Georgia Lynn, director Vicksburg-Warren County Humane Society.

“It’s only for overnight, and you can put them in a laundry room or in a bathroom. But if you can’t possibly do that, make sure they have shelter (outside) with hay in it.

“If you put blankets in a shelter that’s outside, the blankets will freeze, and it doesn’t offer any warmth. Hay doesn’t freeze, so hay is the best thing to put in them. Also remember water will freeze over, so make sure you break the ice on the water.”

If the animal’s outside shelter is under another shelter, like a carport or garage, she said, blankets can be used.

Also, Lynn said, make sure the entrance to the outside shelter faces away from the north and west to protect against north winds entering the shelter and against extreme heat from the sun as it sets during the day.

“If the shelter entrance faces north, turn it around,” she said. “Always make sure the shelter has a north and west barrier.”

Warren County Emergency Management director John Elfer said outdoor pipes need to be a concern and insulated against the cold.

Nationwide Insurance recommends taking the following steps to prevent pipes from freezing:

• Let the water drip in extreme cold. Even if the water does freeze, this will relieve some of the water pressure and keep the pipe from bursting.

• Leave the cabinets open under kitchen and bathroom sinks. This keeps warm air circulating around the pipes.

• If pipes are in areas that don’t get warm air, consider insulating them with insulation sleeves or wrapping. Foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves can be bought at a local hardware store, or call a plumber to do it.

• Seal cracks in the home’s outside walls or foundation to keep cold air away from the pipes.

“The other thing is the heat source people are going to be using to heat their homes,” he said. “They need to be properly ventilated and in good working condition. You have a severe threat with that — the threat of fire and also the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning. This is a good time to make sure smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors have good batteries and everything is in good working order.”

Another problem, Elfer said, is space heaters, especially older electric models that do not have automatic shutoff switches, which turn the heater off if it is knocked over.

“You can catch clothes on fire, bedding material on fire, so that’s always a problem, the first cold snap we have,” he said. “That’s something we deal with every year. Something will happen and we’ll get a house fire.”

The Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s office provides the following advice for heating homes:

• All heating equipment should be UL-approved and cleaned and inspected by a qualified professional prior to being used each year.

• Always plug space heaters directly into outlets, not extension cords.

• Keep clothes, drapes, and anything else combustible at least 3 feet away from all heating equipment, especially space heaters.

• Inspect the space heater’s power cord for damage, fraying or heat. If the cord inspection reveals any of these issues, the heater should be replaced. Proper cleaning is essential and should be done regularly.

• Never use space heaters while you sleep or in areas where children may be without adult supervision.

• Do not leave space heaters on when you are away from home.

• Always unplug space heaters when they are not in use. The heater should also be equipped with a tip over shut-off switch.

• Use only traditional heating equipment.

• Never use a stove or oven to heat living spaces. Kerosene is a poor choice for heating as it will give off poisonous fumes.

• Have chimney flues cleaned and inspected by qualified personnel.

• Have a spark screen that is age appropriate for all individuals using any area to be heated by a fireplace.

• Burn only approved materials in a fireplace or wood burning stove; never burn paper or trash in a fireplace or wood-burning stove.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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