The first freeze of the year is around the corner, and local organizations are gearing up to protect people and pets from the cold.

John Adams, chief meteorologist for KYTX CBS19, said East Texans will experience freezing temperatures overnight Wednesday and Thursday, with the low at 29 on Wednesday and 30 on Thursday.

Adams said temperatures are expected to warm up to a chilly 50 degrees on Wednesday and 56 on Thursday.

"This cold (front) will be unseasonably cold," he said. "When it warms back over the weekend, that will be getting us back to normal (winter temperatures)."

Chris Nuttall, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Shreveport La., said the cold is from an arctic air mass in Canada headed toward central North America.

"It's not really going to stay," he said. "It's a temporary thing. … We are kind of in that transitional season so we will kind of bounce back and forth (between cold and mild temperatures) for another good month or so."

Adams said this weekend would be much warmer with highs in the 60s and 70s and lows in the high 50s. There is also a possibility for more rain through the weekend.

John Norman, lodge supervisor for The Salvation Army, said workers were busy Monday preparing an overflow room for more visitors to the shelter. Cots were being pulled from storage, and the kitchen was preparing for extra mouths to feed, he said.

Once freezing temperatures hit, the shelter could see anywhere from 30 to 50 more people than it normally serves, Norman said.

"We don't turn anyone away under the cold weather conditions," he said.

The Salvation Army is in need of blankets, coats and towels this winter. Norman said donations must be clean and can be dropped off at the lodge or social services office from 9 a.m. to noon on weekdays.

Deborah Dobbs, executive director of the SPCA of East Texas, said the organization also is working to find shelter for homeless pets.

"We are in the process of getting together dog houses and bedding, and deliver a couple of igloos and bedding, and that kind of thing so animals have something to get out of the cold," Ms. Dobbs said.

Legally, all pets are required to have adequate weatherproof shelter with three sides, as well as access to food and water.

"Small dogs, like lap dogs really should not be left outdoors," Ms. Dobbs said. "We (recommend) all dogs be brought in at night to sleep."

If the animal is not housebroken, Ms. Dobbs said they should be put in a kennel. She said typically the animal would not use the restroom where it sleeps and will hold it until the morning.

"Dogs on chains with no shelter is a violation of the law," she said.

Adams said homeowners should not worry about pipes for the short-term freeze.

Terry Hughes, co-owner of Hughes Plant Farm, said potted plants should be brought in from the cold and wind, either to the garage, under a porch or inside a home.

"Tender stuff should be covered with towels or sheets," he said. "I wouldn't use plastic. Make sure that your plants are well watered so the ground is moist. They won't freeze if the ground is moist."

Hughes said certain winter color plants, such as pansies and snapdragons may freeze, but they will defrost and come back.



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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.