Freezing temperatures may continue till Friday

Published 4:39 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Washington Parish could see below-freezing temperatures through Friday, according to officials with the National Weather Service in New Orleans.

The NWS said Tuesday that the coldest temperatures were expected to have already passed by Wednesday morning, but it is still likely that the weather will drop below freezing the next three evenings.

The prolonged period of consecutive sub-freezing nights will have a cumulative effect on exposed people, animals, vegetation and pipes, the NWS said.

While the exact forecast temperatures may fluctuate a little in the coming days, the NWS remains confident that the nights will remain below freezing, at least through Friday.

As a result of the colder weather, ​Louisiana Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Eric Skrmetta activated the PSC’s extreme winter weather rule.

The PSC’s rule orders electric and natural gas utility companies to suspend all disconnect services for its residential customers if the previous day’s highest temperature did not exceed 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the temperature is predicted to remain at or below that level for the next 24 hours, according to the nearest National Weather Service (NWS) reports.

“With temperatures expected to fall below freezing for several consecutive days, it is important to protect consumers, especially our elderly and those on fixed budgets, who would likely be severely impacted if they were to lose electric or natural gas service during this winter front,” Skrmetta said. “The Commission will take all necessary actions and precautions to protect our citizens in the event of severe weather.”

The NWS is also offering winter safety tips:

  • Check and think about people, pets and plants.
  • When winter weather develops, whether it takes the form of extreme cold, ice or snow, make sure you check up on elderly relatives, friends and neighbors, and those in poor health. Pets get cold too and need shelter for warmth. Plants can sustain damage in cold outbreaks such as this one. Take steps to protect plants.
  • Make sure your home heating system is in good working condition and is adequately ventilated. Poorly maintained heating systems pose a fire hazard as well as a hazard from carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Wrap insulation around exposed water pipes to prevent freezing and eventual bursting.
  • Know how to shut off water coming into your house in the event pipes do break.
  • Have a working fire extinguisher in your house.
  • If you plan extended outdoor activities, keep up with the latest weather forecasts. Dress appropriately with layered clothing and a hat. Make sure you have appropriate gear or means to stay dry. Be on guard for symptoms of hypothermia when exposed to cold temperatures.