New Orleans Gardens employees were busy Tuesday covering plants that will remain outside with frost cloth in preparation for below-freezing temperatures set to arrive late Thursday.

Austin Ruggles explained that less hardy, tropical plants will spend the blast of cold weather in green houses, which the East Texas-based nursery was working to make airtight and placing heaters to keep temperature inside at least 50 degrees, but preferably 70 degrees.

Outside plants were being grouped together to help insulate the soil, with Ruggles explaining that even if plants like that freeze, as long as the roots are warm, they’ll likely bounce back in the spring.

“What we’re doing is going to be a little bit different from what homeowners are doing,” because the business’ stock is in pots, he said.

Protection will be key through the weekend — protection for people, pets, pipes and plants. That’s according to a National Weather Service meteorologist, who warned during an update Tuesday about below-freezing temps that will arrive in East Texas on Thursday and remain Friday.

The wind chill, with blasts of wind the could reach 25 to 35 mph, are predicted to bring sub-zero temperatures to much of Northeast Texas.

Ryan Knapp, with the National Weather Service in Shreveport, said Tuesday it’s possible those temperatures could be lower than predicted, when information he provided said Tyler could see a “feels like” temperature of -6 degrees because of wind chill; Longview could could see a temperature that feels like -5 degrees, and Mount Pleasant could experience a a temperature that, with wind chill, could feel like -10.

The National Weather Service has issued a hard freeze watch starting at 6 p.m. Thursday and ending at noon Saturday.

Still, it won’t be like the snowmaggedon of February 2021, when large amounts of snow blanketed East Texas. Tyler experienced 201 hours of below-freezing temperatures, according to the weather service.

Knapp said weather service predictions indicate at least 36 hours of below-freezing temperatures south of Interstate 20 and about 72 hours north of Interstate 20.

Also, he said there might be light snow and some precipitation in some areas, but nothing like 2021.

Knapp said there will be some “very, very cold temperatures across the area,” with warmer temperatures returning after the weekend.

Protect people

The National Weather Service says people should wear lightweight layers during the extreme cold temperatures and not remain outside for long periods of time.

Prepare for road trips by packing jumper cable, flares, filling up the gas tank, warmer clothing, cell phone chargers, water, snacks, first aid kit and a flashlight, for instance.

Hiway 80 Rescue Mission in Tyler and Longview and the Salvation Army in Tyler and Longview both provide shelter. One Love Longview at 1015 McCann Road in Longview is open for extended hours during the cold weather.

Protect pets and pipes

Bring pets and other animals indoors and make accommodations to keep them safe and warm, the weather service recommends.

The city of Tyler urges residents to make sure pets have a warm, dry place with plenty of food and water.

Evans recommends a number of steps to protect indoor and outdoor pipes, including: leave cabinet doors under sinks in the kitchen and bathroom open to help keep pipes warm and insulate any exposed pipes and faucets outside.

The city of Tyler warns that frigid temperatures can cause water lines to burst.

“This can lead to expensive plumbing repairs. Open cabinet doors to sinks. Let faucets trickle. Turn off sprinkler systems. Wrap outside faucets and wrap pipes in crawl spaces, under porches and garages to protect them from freezing,” the city recommends.

Additionally, remove and store outdoor hoses.

The city also recommends knowing where your home’s water shut-off valve is located, in case a pipe should burst.

Contact the City of Tyler’s water business office at 903-531-1230, Option 4, for water and sewer issues, or 903-597-6541 after normal business hours, weekends and holidays.

The weather service also recommends:

Letting faucets drip cold or hot water from the faucet at a trickle;

Draining sprinklers and removing outdoor hoses; and

Keeping heat up to at least 65 degrees.

Also, know how to shut off the main water supply to your house in case of a ruptured pipe and call a licensed plumber if a pipe break occurs.

Protect your plants

Ruggles recommends:

Using frost cloth on outside flower beds — tack it down and make sure it isn’t bending stalks too much; and

Wrapping trees with burlap or something similar to provide insulation.

Use mulch around plants and trees, leaving about an inch between the trunk and the drip line, or outer boundary of the tree’s limbs.

Electric safety tips

From the City of Tyler, National Weather Service, Oncor and SWEPCO:

Never leave a space heater unattended;

Keep heaters at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including papers, clothing and rugs;

Plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Do not use an extension cord or power strip, which could overheat and result in a fire;

Place space heaters on level, flat surfaces. Never place heaters on cabinets, tables, furniture, or carpet, which can overheat and start a fire;

Always unplug and safely store the heater when it is not in use.

Turn off portable heaters overnight or when leaving the house; and

Never use your oven for heating purposes.

Treat all downed lines as dangerous — they can carry an electric current that can cause serious or even fatal injuries. If you see a fallen wire, stay away and keep others away, including children and pets, and call officials immediately.

Do not plug portable generators or RV generators into a home’s main electrical panel as this can “back-feed” into outside utility lines and electrocute repair crews and the public.

 
 

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Jo Lee Ferguson wishes she kept her maiden name - Hammer - because it was perfect for a reporter. She’s a local girl who loves writing about her hometown. She and LNJ Managing Editor Randy Ferguson have two children and a crazy husky.