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Cold weather affects region

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By Chris Edwards
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weatherTYLER COUNTY – The coldest winter chill of the season, thus far, blanketed the Deep East Texas region this week, as freezing rain, freezing drizzle and temperatures as low as 14 degrees came to pass.

The blast of Arctic cold air spread across the state, and throughout the south, affecting different regions in different ways. Temperatures began to plummet on Sunday, which saw a high of 60 degrees during the day. Tyler County saw a low of 23 degrees on Monday morning, with intermittent freezing rain throughout the morning and afternoon.

Although sleet and ice on the roads was minimal in Tyler County, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) began pre-treating highways and bridges in the county, as well as neighboring Jasper and Newton counties, last week.

“While we know how unpredictable East Texas weather can be, TxDOT plans to be prepared and respond appropriately should we see extreme winter weather,” TxDOT Lufkin District public information officer Rhonda Oaks said.

All five of the county’s school districts opted to not hold classes on Tuesday. It was reported on Tuesday that the Lake Amanda/Frog Pond area was without electricity and water, and according to the county’s Office of Emergency Management, new transformers were needed in the area, and water service was paused as lines were being thawed.

The OEM opened two warming stations, one at the Nutrition Center in Woodville and another at the R.B. Moffett Gymnasium in Colmesneil, in conjunction with the Red Cross.

Although the frigid conditions and shifting forms of precipitation were predicted to diminish by Wednesday, according to Shane Pendleton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Shreveport, Pendleton urged residents in the area to plan accordingly and keep an eye on the forecast in coming days.

“There’s a lot of uncertainty,” he said.

NWS predicted lows of 16 degrees on Wednesday morning, with the three-day forecast showing temperatures 20-30 degrees below normal.

The county’s OEM noted that residual moisture and temperatures well below freezing will keep conditions icy on bridges, resulting in black ice (or invisible ice), a deadly driving hazard the cannot easily be seen.

Sunny and breezy conditions on Tuesday morning melted and evaporated the ice from the previous night, but officials were recommending against travel on Tuesday morning. Motorists can monitor road conditions by accessing the website www.drivetexas.org.

In such wintry weather, people are encouraged to check on people, pets, pipes, plants and pools. Check on your family, elderly and neighbors that may need help winterizing their home or a warm place to stay. Bring pets indoors. Ensure adequate warmth for livestock. Cover or insulate exposed pipes, including those pipes underneath raised homes. Apply a thick layer of mulch around plants. Water your plants, which helps trap heat or slow heat loss around the plant. Cover plants or bring potted plants inside a shelter or into your garage.

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