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D-FW will get frigid next week

01/04/2011 11:36 PM

01/05/2011 12:57 AM

In addition to packing up the Christmas lights this weekend, you'll need to cover your faucets and turn off your sprinklers because an extended blast of arctic air is expected to blanket Texas next week.

Record lows aren't in the forecast, but the frigid weather is expected to arrive Monday and stick around through at least Friday, with highs hovering near freezing and lows in the teens, said meteorologist Jason Dunn of the National Weather Service's Fort Worth office.

"We've got a large area of cold air in Canada that is going to spread south. This will be a big front that will go all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico," Dunn said. "It's going to get really cold in the Northern Plains, where they will likely see temperatures 20 and 30 degrees below zero."

North Texas won't get anywhere near those lows, but the duration of the cold snap will be significant, Dunn said.

"We can handle temperatures dropping down to 10 degrees for a couple of hours. Where it becomes a problem is when it stays below freezing for a period of time," Dunn said.

"That really becomes a problem for exposed pipes, even for pipes in walls. The big thing is that during the day it won't warm up very much."

The good news: No snow or ice is in the forecast, he said.

For much of the nation, the month is already shaping up to be one of the coldest Januarys in 25 years, said Andy Mussoline, an Accuweather.com meteorologist.

"This cold weather next week is going to stretch across the whole country, which will make it fairly unique," Mussoline said. "It's a dip in the jet stream. The cold air has its origins in western Canada, and what we see is essentially a pipeline of arctic air heading south."

"Our time frame for the system is January 10th through the 20th. In Dallas-Fort Worth, there are likely to be three days in a row where temperatures will struggle to break the freezing mark," he said.

And when it freezes, Chris Hill's phone at Super Snake Plumbing starts ringing.

"Freezing is freezing -- that's all it takes for the problems to start," he said

The best advice, he said, is to insulate outside faucets and to leave taps running inside your home.

"Not just a drip. A small trickle is what I advise. And take extra precautions on north walls. You're going to raise the water bill a bit, but that's cheaper than replacing pipes," Hill said.

But until the cold front arrives, the weather is expected to be mild for January, Dunn said.

Daytime highs in the 50s and 60s are forecast through Sunday.

"Then it's going to get cold and stay cold for a while," he said.

Steve Campbell, 817-390-7981

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