Cold snaps back: Low temperatures plunge over next few days in Chattanooga

Cold snaps back: Low temperatures plunge over next few days in Chattanooga

January 22nd, 2014 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Mack Russell braves the cold Tuesday during a midday blast of snow on Broad Street.

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

FORECAST

Today

• High: 33

• Low: 15

• Record low: 5

Thursday

• High: 30

• Low: 21

• Record low: -3

Friday

• High: 32

• Low: 13

• Record low: -7

Source: WRCB Channel 3 chief meteorologist Paul Barys

HOW TO HELP

Blankets, gloves and other items to help the homeless cope with the cold can be dropped off at the Community Kitchen, 727 E. 11th St. Donations are tax deductible.

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POLL: Did your water pipes freeze in the last cold snap?

Unum employee Tracey Barnett hangs on to her umbrella as she and other pedestrians in downtown Chattanooga deal with strong winds, dropping temperatures and snow flurries Tuesday morning.

Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press.

Forecasters say Chattanooga's latest deep freeze will bottom out Friday morning with lows dipping near the single digits.

If you haven't already done so, now's the time to seal up crawl spaces and plug up those foundation vents.

Winter's second Arctic blast in two weeks was ushered in about midday Tuesday in downtown Chattanooga by a brief storm with stiff winds and fine, blowing snow.

Temperatures the rest of the week will continue to plummet. That promises a double whammy for heating bills that also include the cold snap here that culminated with a record low of 5 degrees for the date on Jan. 7.

Starting today, the high over the next three days might not surpass the freezing mark until Saturday afternoon, WRCB Channel 3 chief meteorologist Paul Barys said.

"The coldest temperature will be Friday morning," Barys said. "It may not get above freezing, especially up in the mountains, until Saturday afternoon."

Chattanooga Community Kitchen executive director Charlie Hughes said the facility on 11th Street will be open throughout the cold snap and remain open until mid-March.

"We started Jan. 15 and we'll be open through March 15," Hughes said. "We had 99 people here [Monday] night."

The Community Kitchen also needs donations of cold weather clothing for those who will face the cold with little protection.

"The colder it gets the more blankets, gloves, toboggans and things like that we need," Hughes said. The Community Kitchen has given out more than 1,000 blankets so far this year.

"Some people are going to be outside," he said. "We give them blankets, sleeping bags and anything we can to keep them warm."

Before temperatures dip much lower, Water Works Plumbing Service owner Todd Boyd says homeowners should start preparing by sealing open vents, crawl space doors and any cracks in the foundation.

Cover exterior faucets with insulated foam boxes or rags wrapped with duct tape, and disconnect water hoses so they don't freeze and burst, Boyd said.

As the lowest temperatures set in, open cabinet doors to bathroom and kitchen sinks that face exterior walls and allow a small stream of hot and cold water to trickle from sink and bathtub faucets, Boyd said.

"Get as small an amount of water moving on the cold side as you can, then add the hot to that," he said. Shoot for a stream about a pencil-lead thick, and feel the water to make sure it's warm.

Turn on the heat in unoccupied homes, he said.

If water pipes still freeze, "don't try to thaw them with a torch," he said. Torches and even unattended heaters can easily start a fire.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.