UNION COUNTY — The residents of Union County will be dealing with temperatures nearly 30 degrees below normal for much of this week due to an arctic cold front that will cause temperatures to plunge into the single digits Tuesday morning.
Neil Dixon, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Greer, said this morning that the unseasonably cold weather is due to an arctic air mass pulled down from Canada that will arrive in Union County.
“As we speak right now there’s an arctic cold front moving across the Carolinas,” Dixon said. “There’s a strong Canadian air mass building behind the front. The circulation around the pressure system has pulled the air mass down south. That air mass will linger over our region for the next several days.”
Dixon said that as the air mass follows the front temperatures will continue to drop bringing lows and highs that will be well below normal for this time of year.
“Behind the front we should see falling temperatures throughout the day,” Dixon said. “Tonight we’ll see clearing skies and the center of this cold air mass approaching so portions of Union County will likely see single digits in the morning.
“Daytime highs for Tuesday will only reach the upper 20s,” he said. “Our normal high for this time of year is in the lower 50s. Our normal low temperature is 32 so our high temperature tomorrow is going to be several degrees lower than our normal low temperature.”
Dixon said the below normal temperatures will continue through Thursday before temperatures return to their normal level this weekend.
The unusually low temperatures bring with them the threat of hypothermia and frostbite and Dixon urged anyone who knows of a neighbor who might be at risk to take whatever steps they can to help them.
“The winds tonight are going to remain gusty resulting in below zero chill factors which can result in hypothermia or frostbite,” Dixon said. “This is one of the situations where if you have a neighbor who you know has inadequate heating or insulation you should let them borrow a heater.”
In addition to humans, Dixon said the temperature can pose a threat to animals as well.
“You want to think about your animals that normally live outside,” Dixon said. “Bring them inside or to a barn or any kind of shelter.”
Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall announced this afternoon that the district will operate on its regular schedule despite the cold. While delaying the start of school until later in the day in hopes that it would be at least somewhat warmer was considered, Woodall said it was ruled out because temperatures are project to remain well below freezing throughout the day. Instead, Woodall said the district is taking steps to ensure students remain safe and warm despite the cold.
“We are cranking our buses early, we have not tried to crank them in this temperature before,” Woodall said. “We are running our buses at normal times, but they will be late because they will be making frequent stops. We want our students to stay indoors until they see their bus.”
Woodall also urged parents to dress their children warmly, both for the trip to school and for when they are in class.
“We are cutting down on our energy consumption by lowering our thermostats at all locations because we expect a big demand on the city utilities,” Woodall said. “The schools will feel cooler because of the demand on our power. So students should dress warmly and stay inside whenever possible.”
The ability to stay warm in the kind of brutally cold temperatures Union County will be experiencing this week will be vitally important and for that reason the utility companies that serve the county will not be turning off anyone’s power while the temperature is below freezing.
“If it’s 35 or below we don’t cut off,” Kathy Woods, Customer Services Supervisor for the City of Union Utility Department, said this afternoon. “We pull three weather sites every morning and if one of them says 35 then we don’t cut off that day.”
Woods pointed out that it is city policy that utility services will not be disconnected on day when, as of 7 a.m., the temperature is forecast for 99 degrees or higher during warm weather months or 35 degrees or lower during cold weather months.
If a City of Union Utility customer experiences a disruption of their utilities, Woods said they should call 864-429-1717 during office hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.) or 864-429-1707 after office hours. She said the utility also has a toll free number (1-800-733-4656) for reporting outages any time of the day.
Lockhart Power COO Bryan Stone said Monday that there is a temperature threshold below which the company does not cut off power. He said that company policy is that if the temperature is projected by the National Weather Service to be 32 degrees or lower for the next 24 hours the company will not disconnect service for non-payment.
Stone said that anyone with an outage should call 864-545-2211.
Josh Crotzer, Member Services Coordinator for Broad River Electric Cooperative, said that the company follows state law which says utility providers cannot interrupt power when the temperature is below freezing. He said that because of this the company will not be cutting off service while the temperature is below freezing this week.
Broad River Electric customers who have an outage should call 866-266-7688.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.