COLD WEATHER IS COMING!
WHAT ARE FREEZING TEMPERATURES?
When approaching winter in Texas, it can be uneventful as our winters tend to be somewhat mild in our area. Nevertheless, we do still have the chance of a detrimental cold front and we must be prepared. When talking about winter with Inframark, we take the WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW approach on our facilities. So, what are freezing temperatures?
Technically freezing temperatures are when the air reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit. However, it is typically uncommon to see damage to pipes or facilities if the temperature
drops down to 32 degrees and doesn’t stay there for a long period of time. When the temperature reaches 30 degrees or below and stays for just a few hours, it can cause the
pipes to freeze, damage irrigation equipment and cause control failures at many different levels. Additionally, there can be latent damage which doesn’t show immediately. An
example of this would be galvanized pipes. While the pipe may not burst, expansion can occur separating the galvanizing from the pipe creating an area for corrosion to start and
ultimately cause leaks.
WHEN DO YOU PREPARE FOR A FREEZE?
That question is probably the hardest to answer in our area. At Inframark, we do an annual freeze protection audit starting in the Fall. We also do periodic checks as winter continues, since it may actually be months before the cold weather makes its way to our area. It is always the best practice to make sure the preventive measures taken are in good condition throughout the winter. With preparations in place and a cold front approaching, the weather should be monitored regularly to determine arrival time, anticipated temperatures and duration of temperatures below freezing.
WHERE SHOULD WE HAVE FREEZE PROTECTION?
This is the easiest question, everywhere! We don’t believe you can prepare enough for a winter freeze. The potential loss and damage due to a freeze can be extremely costly. Your outside spigots should be covered and insulated along with any other pipes directly exposed to freezing temperatures. This also includes pipes in the attic, garden hoses, irrigation lines and irrigation system backflow preventers. The lines outside exposed to the air are the most common areas to see damage. It is not uncommon for our Inframark team to turn the water off to hundreds of broken backflow preventers in the residential communities after a big freeze. Typically, pipes in the home are fairly safe with heaters running.
HOW DO WE PREPARE FOR THE FREEZE?
There are many different methods and materials which can be utilized to make sure you are safe from freeze damage. Some of these are: foam and fiberglass insulation sized for specific pipes and secured with vinyl and plastic tape, prefabricated spigot covers, spray foam insulation, heat tape, heat lamps and portable heaters. Almost all building supply stores have these items, but do not wait until the night before because they are known to sell out. Should supplies be unavailable, one can improvise, such as utilizing towels and duct tape to insulate vulnerable areas. Turning off the water and draining the lines is the most reliable way to prevent freeze damage. This should always be done for backflow preventers and irrigation systems; however, most everyone needs to have potable water inside the house while it is occupied, so turning off the water and draining the lines is not an option. It is also best practice to periodically flush the lines through all fixtures inside the house during a freeze to bring fresh water into all the lines. This will prevent the water from expanding and breaking the pipes during the freeze. Space heaters, heat lamps and heat tape can be used for small areas directly exposed to freezing temperatures, but care should be taken with any device using extension cords.
Beginning on August 20th, your Inframark management team began preparations and tracking of what was known then as tropical disturbance number 13. TD 13 intensified and became tropical storm Marco. As of this Sunday morning Marco is forecast to begin a counterclockwise movement and make landfall as a hurricane on the Louisiana coast. At that point, the storm will continue on a west-northwest track taking it through Louisiana and eventually coming in to East Texas just north of Beaumont. At this point it will be a tropical depression.
Additionally, we are watching tropical storm Laura. This system is currently bringing inclement weather to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the southeastern Bahamas. Experts predict the storm will continue on a north northwest track, strengthening as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm is still too far out to forecast a point of landfall, but experts generally agree it could be anywhere from Houston all the way to Mississippi. Additionally, there is much discussion on the impact Laura may or may not exert on Marco as these two storms potentially are going to be close.
With the amount of data that we have been presented and the significant discrepancy in its interpretation by the weather experts, INFRAMARK has decided to prepare all of our clients as if both storms are going to make a direct hit on the Houston area.
Here are the steps we have taken:
- We are in direct contact with Jeff Lindner from Harris County OEM to assist us in understanding the forecast.
- We have 2 daily briefings to review the data points with our emergency team.
- All facilities have been placed in a hurricane prep condition ready to withstand the unique weather characteristics that are brought about by hurricanes.
- We have verified fuel delivery with our multiple fuel vendors.
- We have placed our Shelter in Place Packs (SIPPS) in strategic locations for our employee’s safety.
- Our customer service and billing teams are set up to perform their functions remotely via the internet.
- Our 2-way radio system is active and ready in the event cellular communications are compromised.
- We will be deploying the mobile command center (MCC) Monday AM.
The MCC is a self-contained mobile vehicle that has 100 gallons of diesel, an 85kW generator, communications tools and food to keep our 24-hour emergency team ready.
As always, we hope that this becomes a non-event and dissipates quickly. If you have any questions about anything related to the storm or your district preparation, please reach out to your designated account manager for more information. If anything changes, we will share it with another special edition of our customer first newsletter.
NHC forecasting as a Sunday morning:
On February 26th, 2020, MUD 152 hosted Atascocita HS Student Council along with MUD 152 consultants in a mock meeting. Students were able to participate, ask questions, and understand the function of a MUD board.
MUD 152 thanked Atascocita HS Student Council for their efforts and provided a $5,000 stipend for their efforts in installing over 1,100 storm inlets throughout Atascocita South and Atasca Woods.