Thousands without gas, some schools close or delay start

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By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

TUCSON, Ariz. -- Thousands of homes in Southern Arizona are without heat this morning after the only supplier of natural gas to the area was unable to meet demand.

Libby Howell, spokesperson for Southwest Gas, says 14,000 customers in the Rita Ranch and eastern foothills areas of Tucson are without power and some 4,500 customers are in the same situation in Sierra Vista.

Howell says the cold temperatures have put a huge demand on the El Paso Gas pipeline company that delivers natural gas to the area.  The company has not been able to meet that demand.

 Tucson Unified School District said two of its schools were closed at mid-morning because of no heat or water.  Students at Schumaker Elementary, near Fifth Street and Pantano, are being taken to  Steele Elementary at 700 S. Sarnoff.  Parents can pick them up there with proper identification.  The students will not be returned to Schumaker today.

Also, students at Lynn Urquides Elementary at 1573 W. Ajo Way are being moved to the Pueblo High School gym at 3500 South 12th Avenue.

Huachuca City School in Huachuca City, AZ (part of the Tombstone Unified School District) will be closed due to a busted water pipe.

And Sunnyside and Desert View High Schools will delay their opening on Friday to 9:25 A.M.

The low temperature in Tucson this morning was 18 degrees.  That broke the previous record low of 21 degrees set in 1910.  The 18 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, is the second coldest temperature ever recorded in Tucson in February.  It ties the temperature recorded on February 8, 1933.

Tucson will likely set another record Thursday -- the one for the lowest high temperature.  The predicted high Thursday is 39 degrees, well below the standing record.