'Blast of arctic air' on its way to Chattanooga

Frost collects on a car windshield in the East Brainerd area recently. Forecasts call for lows in the teens this weekend.
Frost collects on a car windshield in the East Brainerd area recently. Forecasts call for lows in the teens this weekend.

Day-by-day forecast

* Thursday: Highs in mid-30s, lows in mid-teens * Friday: Highs in mid-30s, lows in 20s * Saturday: Highs in low 40s, lows around 11* Sunday: Highs around 30, lows in upper teensSource: National Weather ServiceView our in-depth weather forecast.

Cold weather tips

Winterize your carCheck or have a mechanic check the following items on your car: * Ensure antifreeze levels are sufficient to avoid freezing. * Battery and ignition system should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean. * Be sure heater and defroster work properly. * Check oil for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well. Winterize your house * Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing. * Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts. * Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out. * Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternative heating sources. Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Wind chills in the Chattanooga area could drop to 5 degrees below zero on Saturday night and early Sunday morning when a brief cold snap hits the area.

Temperatures are expected to plunge to 11 degrees overnight Saturday in some of the coldest weather the city has seen this winter.

"It's a blast of arctic air," said Derek Eisentrout, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

Exposed skin will develop frostbite in about a half-hour in a -5 degree wind chill, according to the NWS. People should be aware of the danger and be sure to cover up, Eisentrout said. Pets should come inside or be given shelter, he added.

So far this winter, the coldest weather happened in January, when thermometer readings dropped to 9 degrees. And while Saturday's temperatures will be close to that bone-chilling level, they're still nowhere near Chattanooga's all-time cold record for Feb. 14 -- 4 degrees below zero in 1905.

"That won't be broken," said Kent McMullen, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga. "But we'll be getting close to the all-time record for February 15. That was 9 degrees in 1960."

He said highs in North Georgia may not reach above freezing on Sunday.

The cold front is sweeping in from the Northern Plains, Eisentrout said, and will flow across the Great Lakes before hitting Chattanooga. And while the thought of snow may be titillating for some after a nearly snowless winter, Eisentrout said there's none on the way for Chattanooga this week.

In fact, this season has been drier than normal, he said. In January and December, the Chattanooga area received about 2 inches less precipitation than normal.

Temperatures will start to rise again on Monday, with highs in the lower 40s.

Contact staff reporter Shelly Bradbury at 423-757-6525 or sbradbury@timesfreepress.com with tips or story ideas.

2015 Chattanooga temperatures

Winter lows* February: 20 degrees on the 6th* January: 9 degrees on the 8th* December: 26 degrees on the 15thWinter highs* February: 66 degrees on the 8th* January: 67 on the 20th * December: 68 on the 1st Source: National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.