Somewhat caught by surprise by the severity of what was called the “Polar Vortex” that blew through the region about two weeks ago, the area finds itself better prepared to tackle another incoming blast of cold weather. Temperatures will drop today through the beginning of the weekend.
While the wintry mix was expected, the severity of the Polar Vortex was not. Around Johnson City on Monday, many people were out doing spring-like activities with temperatures reaching the mid-50s. This morning, however, the temperatures will begin to drop.
Caye Gasteiger, office manager of Gasteiger Plumbing in Johnson City, fielded so many calls for all the plumbing emergencies during the Polar Vortex that she said she resorted to apologizing to callers and telling them to go through the phone book, call any plumber they could and get on their long list.
“It was awful,” Gasteiger said. “All the plumbers we knew had lists that had 20, 30 or 40 people on them. There was a two- or three-day wait.”
Gasteiger said she had even heard of someone who had their meter burst, something she’d never heard of, and wondered how that would have been taken care of.
This time around, people will have more know-how and a chance to prepare for the cold that will begin arriving today. Whereas temperatures crept into the negatives last time, this time the lowest temperatures the area should see will be in the mid- to high single digits Thursday evening.
National Weather Service Meterologist Sam Roberts said though the weather will not be as bad as it was then, precautions still should be taken.
“It will be similar, but not quite as cold as last time,” Roberts said.
He said some snow will fall around Johnson City, perhaps 1-2 inches. With temperatures being so low, there’s a chance the snow will accumulate, but the roads shouldn’t be dangerous to travel. The snow will fall over a long amount of time, and shouldn’t be all that threatening. No real rain should be expected, Roberts said.
Roberts emphasized keeping a trickle running through water lines to decrease the chances of pipes freezing and bursting.
Lowe’s Home Improvement in Johnson City saw such a high number of bursts and cold-weather-related emergencies that they ran low on, and out of, some of their supplies. Assistant store manager James Edenfield said they’re better stocked this time and everything is out on the floor now. They have extra snow shovels, pipe wrap, Pex or anything to combat the low temperatures and its effects on pipes.
Even though the temperatures are set to be slightly warmer than last time, the same precautions should be taken, Edenfield said.
The Johnson City Water and Sewer Services Department tells customers to:
- Keep water moving through the lines.
- Insulate water pipes.
- Open cabinet doors below a faucet if it’s on an outside wall so warmer air can circulate around the pipes.
Edenfield said in his time living in the area, he’d never seen more burst water pipes than with the Polar Vortex, and people should be prepared and be on the safe side this time.