Mid-South braves frigid temps, preps for winter weather chance

Leaving a slot drip on the faucet is a good way to prevent frozen pipes. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Leaving a slot drip on the faucet is a good way to prevent frozen pipes. (Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With freezing temperatures and a slight possibility for winter weather this weekend, the Mid-South is preparing for the worst.

Road crews ready to go

Less than two weeks ago, Memphis Public Works Department went through an exercise to ensure everyone was ready to go in the event of winter weather.

Mississippi is doing the same. Mississippi Emergency Management Agency is working with the National Weather Service to stay up to date on the weather.

MEMA said their staff is working 24/7 to monitor the conditions and be prepared.

"You have to prepare on the front end," MEMA external affairs officer Ray Coleman said. "If you know what's going to happen, or if you can prepare the best you can then you can have better reaction on the back end."

State safety officials urge everyone to keep an eye on road conditions and stay home if ice develops.

Tennessee Department of Transportation officials said they are discussing plans to keep roads safe.

Shelby County will apply brine to bridges, overpasses, and major intersections. Six salt/sand trucks will be available to go should they be needed.

Avoid frozen pipes

For those at home, there are precautions to take as well.

A slow dripping faucet could save you thousands of dollars in damage and repairs during the winter.

"Once those pipes freeze you don't know that they've busted until they thaw out," plumber Dustin Smith said. "So let's say next Wednesday or Thursday as those temperatures rise, that's when you are going to start seeing water [and] water damage."

Smith said protecting pipes from frigid temperatures should be a priority, and it's as simple as opening cabinets to allow the heat to warm the pipes--especially if the faucet backs up to an exterior wall.

"You want to let that water flow so it's not just sitting and allowing it to freeze," Smith said.

During times of freezing temps, older homes are most likely to fall victim to bursting water pipes.

Smith said homeowners need to pay close attention to pipes in uninsulated places like attics and crawl spaces.

"You want to make sure it's fully wrapped around the pipes, all the joints are taped and sealed so it doesn't allow that cold air to get in there and allow those pipes to freeze," Smith said.

Water damage is one of the most common causes of homeowners' insurance claims. If your pipes end up bursting, most standard homeowners' insurance policies cover the damage.

Keep out of the cold

Lows will dip into the 20s in the Mid-South for much of the next week. Therefore, warming centers will be open Thursday night. Benjamin Hooks Library will be open from 9 p.m. until 8 a.m. For more information, call 901-636-2525.

Other overnight shelters include:

  • Memphis Union Mission, 600 Poplar Avenue (Men only)
  • Calvary Rescue Mission, 960 South 3rd Street (Men only)
  • Salvation Army, 696 Jackson Avenue (Single mothers only)

Many shelters that usually charge an overnight fee are making exceptions due to the cold.

"People do freeze to death in these kind of conditions, so it's extremely important to be able to provide a safe place for people," Steve Carpenter said.

Carpenter is with Union Mission. They serve three meals each day to men.

As a result of the cold temperatures, Memphis Light Gas and Water will not be disconnecting customers Thursday.

FedEx, MEM ready for anything

FedEx has contingency plans in the case of winter weather.

FedEx has its own de-icing equipment to keep its planes coming and going smoothly.

The company plans to do what is necessary to ensure the safety of employees and provide the best service for customers.

Memphis International Airport is keeping close tabs on the weekend's weather. With travelers flying into Memphis for the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, it's bound to be a busy week.

"People may be surprised to see we have such a large fleet of snow removal equipment, but we have over 250 flights a day from FedEx and another 80 from the passenger carriers," MEM spokesman Glen Thomas said.

For now, the equipment is waiting. there's more than 30 machines--snow brooms, snow plows, and de-icing trucks working all together.

Thomas said weather has never shut down the airport, but that's no reason to not be prepared.

"As the weather gets closer and it gets more definitive that we'll get precipitation, we'll be able to mobilize both with vehicles and staff," he said.

Staff and trucks are prepped and on standby to handle runway clearing in the event of a snowstorm.

While MEM is prepped and ready to go, other airports could experience delays with freezing temps across much of the country. Airport passengers should arrive at the airport early and check their flights for delays.

Increased traffic this weekend

With the AutoZone Liberty Bowl and New Year's Eve looming, it looks to be a big weekend in the Bluff City.

Many business owners in Downtown Memphis are concerned, however, that the freezing temperatures may keep people home.

"It's very cool, but then again, it's December, so what do you expect?" Erin Henderson said.

Henderson is one of many Mid-Southerners bracing the dangerously cold temperatures.

Some Iowa State fans already in town for the Liberty Bowl are ready for the cold weather and are embracing it.

Despite the concern, some Beale Street restaurant owners are already seeing increased business from the game.

"Starting yesterday we've been full pretty much open to close, it's been real good so now I feel great," Jerry Lawler restaurant GM Randy Hales said.

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