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It’s Time To Prepare for the Arctic Air Headed to North Texas

Sub-zero wind chill is expected starting Thursday, but you shouldn't wait to prepare. Here’s everything you need to know about the coming winter weather.
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Don’t let that sunlight fool you. Temperatures on Thursday and Friday will be in the teens, even without any precipitation in the forecast.

North Texas may not have a white Christmas, but it will be bitterly cold because of an arctic blast that is expected to roll in Thursday and persist through Christmas Eve. 

The winter weather will likely impact travel around the country, where a cold front crossing most of the U.S. will bring dangerous wind chill temperatures from the South to the East Coast.

The National Weather Service’s Fort Worth office predicts a hard freeze Thursday night into Friday morning for all of North Texas. Wind gusts potentially reaching 45 miles per hour could bring wind chills from 5 to 15 degrees below zero Thursday night. Those sub-freezing temperatures could last through Saturday. Friday’s low is currently 11 degrees.

“The exact timing on the front is still somewhat uncertain,” the NWS said. “Regardless, the high temperature of the day for most will likely occur during the morning hours with temperatures falling sharply throughout the day.”

The agency also warned of snow flurries on Thursday, but that’s the only precipitation in the forecast. NBC DFW meteorologist Grant Johnston said there is also the potential for lake-effect snow in parts of North Texas as the cold air moves over warmer lake waters. 

“Most of the area lakes have water temperatures in the 50s,” he said. “With air temperatures quickly dropping into the teens and 20s Thursday, this could create the setup for lake-effect snow across parts of the Metroplex.”

Johnson said a few factors will determine whether the region sees that phenomenon, including how much moisture is in the air. He says we shouldn’t expect to see Great Lakes-levels of snow accumulation, where lake-effect snow is most common. Areas south or southeast of a large lake are most likely to see it.

The bottom line is that it’s time to prepare for some wicked winter temperatures. The city of Dallas’ Office of Emergency Management recommends several things to prepare, including making sure you have an alternate heat source like dry, seasoned firewood if you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove. And, of course, make sure you have plenty of warm clothing and blankets. Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before Thursday, and consider purchasing a fire extinguisher in case using that alternate heat source goes awry.

As we learned with Winter Storm Uri, it’s also a good idea to keep phones and other devices charged, and consider charging up external batteries in case you lose power. Make sure you have plenty of batteries for flashlights or radios, too.

Make a plan to keep pets inside during the worst of the weather, and if you need to take your fur friend on a walk, make sure that you are bundled up (avoiding exposed skin) and that your dog is also appropriately geared up for what awaits them outside. The American Veterinary Medical Association also recommends checking your dog’s paw pads after walks for any cold-weather damage that might happen. Also make plenty of noise before your start your car—stray cats like to curl up around the engine during winter weather.

Outside, make sure that you have removed any water hoses from exterior spigots, and cover those spigots with a foam cover that is available at most local hardware stores. Leave the outside valve open so that water can continue to drain and so it won’t burst a pipe should it freeze and expand, the American Red Cross says. Also, consider insulating any pipes that are not near a heat source, such as those in a garage or attic. This is also a great time to turn off automatic sprinkler systems so you don’t turn your driveway, street, or sidewalk into a skating rink.

If you have a pool, check the pump every day to make sure water is still flowing if you haven’t drained it. 

Even if you have a freeze protector among your pool equipment, you’ll want to look at the pump every day to make sure it’s moving water through your pipes. Those pipes, too, can burst if they freeze. Some pool owners drain their equipment in the offseason to prevent busted pipes.

Inside, open up cabinet doors that lead to your sink pipes so that the warmer indoor air can help keep them stay above freezing. And, of course, let your faucets drip to keep water flowing.

“Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst,” read a statement from the Red Cross. “If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.”

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As temperatures are anticipated to drop to below freezing, Austin Street Center and Our Calling will team up to run the city's inclement weather shelter, offering homeless individuals meals and warmth. Courtesy Our Calling

Two Nonprofits Have a Plan to Keep Unhoused Neighbors Warm

Our Calling and Austin Street Center announced Monday that they would partner to operate the city of Dallas’ inclement weather shelter. In June, Austin Street Center opened a new 60,000-square-foot facility that can help up to 500 unhoused people with a variety of services daily. Its former facility is across the street, and is currently vacant, making it an ideal location for temporary shelter during inclement weather. That will be able to help up to 380 people. Austin Street Center’s team will conduct intake at the Inclement Weather Shelter, and OurCalling’s team will run the day-to-day operations of the temporary shelter.

“Shelter guests will receive breakfast, lunch, and dinner along with access to showers, restroom facilities, and safe shelter,” a press release from Our Calling, a faith-based daytime outreach program for the homeless, said. The program will also use its Homeless Emergency Broadcast System to send text messages to homeless individuals who have signed up, and will also step up its search and rescue efforts to encourage people to seek shelter.

The public is invited to visit ourcalling.org/cold or austinstreet.org to volunteer or make a resource or financial donation.

Author

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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