Devastating freeze as historic cold weather system moves in

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by Catherine Holland and April Warnecke

Bio | Email | Follow: @AprilWarnecke

azfamily.com

Posted on February 2, 2011 at 6:43 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 2 at 5:46 PM

PHOENIX – While it is cold this morning, it’s going to be even colder tonight into tomorrow morning and the wind is not going to help.

With the wind chill this morning, the 36-degree temperature at 6 a.m. felt more like a below freezing 30. Outlying areas felt like they were in the 20s.

An unusually cold, strong, dry low-pressure system has been dropping down into Arizona. The cold front has already pushed through. Ahead of it, we saw the winds pick up Tuesday evening.

Behind it, we’re seeing those winds continue. Those winds actually caused a wind chill factor of just 17 degrees in some areas of the Valley at about 7 a.m.

It’s going to stay windy and cold Wednesday, with a high in Phoenix of just 48 degrees.

Lows in some parts of the high country will hover around zero, but with the wind chill, it will feel much colder, closer to 30 below.

There’s actually a wind chill warning for Flagstaff and the rim country. Early morning wind chill readings were as low as 18 degrees below zero in some areas. With the temperature not expected to climb above 20 degrees in Flagstaff today, the wind chill factor will likely stay near zero all day.

Freeze warning

While things are going to slowly warm up in the Phoenix Metro area in the coming days, it’s tonight’s overnight low that’s going to be a big issue.

Here in the Valley, there is a freeze warning beginning at 11 p.m. The forecast low in town is 30 degrees, but outlying areas could get down to 20.

There is another freeze warning in place for Thursday night into Friday morning. It’s not until the weekend that those overnight lows will come back up to the 40s.

Protect your plants and your home

Garden Guy Dave Owens said the best thing you can do is protect the base of your plants. Because of the wind, you will want to make sure you anchor whatever you use to cover them. You also might need to consider stripping the fruit from your trees.

The thing you do not want to do is prune your plants or trees, Owens said. That will just expose more of the plant to the extreme cold.

To keep your water pipes from freezing and bursting, wrap the vertical pipe that brings the water into your home. Tape towels or rags in place, covering the pipe all the way down to the ground.

While it's not an ideal method of freeze protection, leaving a faucet or hose bib slightly running so that it's slowly dripping can keep the pipes from freezing.

If you do run into an issue, you should make sure you know where your water meter is so you can turn off the water. Be aware that the valve might be stiff.

Coldest temperatures in years

This is some of the coldest weather we’ve seen in Phoenix in years. Temperatures could approach those of 2007's killing freeze -- when Sky Harbor got down to 29 degrees -- but with the wind, it will likely feel even colder.

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