With a record cold wave gripping much of the nation, temperatures at the Anniston Regional Airport slipped below freezing shortly after midnight Monday morning, according to National Weather Service observations, and are not expected to warm above 32 degrees until midday on Wednesday.
The coldest air has yet to arrive. Tonight’s forecast lows could be in single digits, according to the National Weather Service.
The weather service’s office in Calera has issued a hard freeze warning for much of the state, indicating the threat of ruptured water pipes and potential danger to plants, animals and people.
The weather service also has issued advisories for high winds and wind chill. Sustained winds from the northwest of about 25 mph with gusts to 40 mph could make driving difficult through about 6 p.m., and will make the air feel colder, near or below zero degrees, according to the advisories. The low wind chill values could lead to frostbite and hypothermia for those who venture outside without taking precautions such as wearing hats and gloves, according to the advisories.
To help residents combat the chill, the cities of Anniston and Jacksonville planned to open warming stations in community centers today, and the Salvation Army in Anniston was offering a place to warm up at its Noble Street facility.
Many area schools and public agencies have announced they will delay the start of classes this week to avoid problems with early-morning cold. Most institutions said they would open two hours later than normal at least for Monday. Click here for a complete list of local closings and delays related to the weather.
Ted Whitten, owner of Ted’s Plumbing in Anniston, Sunday offered a few precautions people can take to keep their pipes from freezing. He said anything exposed should be wrapped and insulated and hoses should be disconnected.
Whitten also suggested that people leave the heat on in their homes and leave a trickle of water from faucets. A continuous flow of water will be harder to freeze than still water, he said.
Anniston assistant Fire Chief Joel Roberts and Gaddy both offered suggestions for those worried about heating their homes.
Roberts said when the weather gets cold people have a tendency to plug too many things into electrical outlets, put space heaters too close to bedding and use their ovens for heat.
“Anytime it gets cold people get careless sometimes,” Roberts said.
Those who cannot find appropriate heating methods should go to heating stations like the one at the Salvation Army on Noble Street, Roberts said.
Capt. Bert Lind of the Salvation Army told The Star on Friday that anyone who needs a place to wait out the cold is welcome at the shelter. Lind said that coffee, snacks and a television will be provided and the group will also offer overnight stays, free of charge.
Staff staffers Brian Anderson, Madasyn Czebiniak and Ben Cunningham contributed reporting.