NWS issues hard freeze warning for region

E-T staff report

The National Weather Service in Fort Worth has issued a hard freeze warning from 9 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday for much of north and central Texas, including Erath County.

Very cold temperatures dropping into the teens across the region can be expected. A few locations could drop into the single digits.

Hard freeze conditions will result in damage to exposed pipes and additional water main breaks are possible, according to the NWS.

Power outages continue across portions of the region, leaving some without means of heating their home and increasing the risk of frozen indoor plumbing. Residents are asked to take steps now to make plans for how they will remain warm in the event of power outages.

According to the Stephenville Police Department, the following locations continue to provide a safe and warm place for anyone in need:

• The Agave, 1907 E. Washington St., Stephenville

• Graham Street Church of Christ, 312 N. Graham St., Stephenville

• Oak Dale Methodist Church, 2675 W. Overhill Drive, Stephenville

To prevent additional freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes residents are asked to wrap and drain pipes, or allow water to drip slowly. Those that have in-ground sprinkler systems should drain them and cover above-ground pipes to protect them from freezing.

As of Thursday afternoon, Oncor, which provides electricity to the Stephenville municipal area released the following statement: "Our teams and mutual assistance crews are working around the clock to make all necessary repairs to equipment affected by this week’s severe winter weather. From restringing lines, to resetting poles, to clearing downed trees and branches, crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to complete the restoration work."

Locally, officials were encouraging residents experiencing power outages to contact the service provider.

"If you are in the Oncor service area (which is most people inside the city limits) then go to their website to check and report your outage or check the status of the outage," the Stephenville Police Department notified residents via its Facebook page. To report an outage or follow the extent of the rolling outages, visit stormcenter.oncor.com

Associated Well Services of Stephenville offered the following advice via social media: "If you’re well system is frozen, please turn the breaker off to the system. If left on, the pump can be burnt up and even worse your well can be ruined if the pump in the well gets hot enough to begin to melt the casing. So please turn the breaker off to the well pump."

A place to stay warm

During these extreme cold temperatures, some local business owners have also offered their places of business as shelter for those experiencing issues with heating their homes.

According to a post on the Erath County Sheriff's Office Facebook, VW Stephens, owner of the Purple Goat and City Limits, advised that during this time of extreme cold he has opened the doors of City Limits as a shelter for anyone needing a warm place to stay.

"If you go there you will need to provide your own bedding, toiletries and meals during your stay. Thank you Mr. Stephens," the post reads.

In addition, 4 Elite Roofing, US Hwy 377 South next to Kubota, "has also opened room for a shelter during these extreme weather conditions. They also have limited shelter space in a heated shop for accommodations for pets," a social media post reads.

Extreme cold

During this time of extreme cold temperatures, residents are asked to avoid outside activities if possible. When outside, make sure you wear appropriate clothing, a hat, and gloves.

The Stephenville Police Department, Erath County Sheriff’s Office, Dublin Police Department, Texas Department of Public Safety and Tarleton State University Police Department provided the public with the following winter weather safety tips: 

• Stay indoors during the worst part of the extreme cold.

• Keep a winter survival kit in your car if you must go somewhere.

• Learn how to shut off water valves for potential pipe bursts

• Trickle water through pipes to increase heating and crawl/ceiling spaces to prevent freezing.

• Check on the elderly.

• Bring pets inside.

• If you must go outside, wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothing.

• Wear a hat.

• Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold air.

• Mittens, snug at the wrist, are better than gloves.

If you have questions or need assistance call the police department at (254) 918-1273. If it is an emergency, dial 9-1-1.

In addition, ice that melts on roads during the day will re-freeze, leading to dangerous travel conditions. The latest road conditions for Texas can be found at drivetexas.org.

For additional information, visit www.weather.gov/fwd/