ASHEVILLE NC – The potential for frozen pipes increases dramatically when temperatures drop below freezing. With the predicted extreme cold coming our way, here are some tips to help you keep your pipes from freezing and to help you know what to do if they do freeze.
Be aware of which pipes are most likely to freeze.
In an outside wall behind a sink.
Where pipes run through crawlspaces under houses.
Where exterior faucets are not shut off on the interior.
It’s hard to find the spot where cold air hits a pipe directly and freezes the line. It can freeze in one location and keep the whole line from flowing. Look for where a pipe may pass a crawlspace vent, basement window, or run along a sill plate. Look for areas where there is cold air coming in.
Precautions to Take
If you haven’t already taken the steps necessary to avoid pipes freezing here are some precautionary steps you can take:
Know where and how to shut off your water from the main shut-off valve.
Seal air leaks around pipes that allow cold air to seep in.
Insulate pipes near outer walls, in crawl spaces or in attics.
In exposed or problem areas, you may use heat tape or heat cables to prevent freezing. Make certain they are UL approved and that you follow manufacturer’s instructions.
Disconnect garden hoses, shut off and drain water from pipes leading outside.
Turn your faucet on just enough to have constant dripping (for pipes that may be on exterior wall)
Open cabinet doors to allow heat to circulate around pipes under a sink. It may be necessary to remove a piece of the drywall so the warm inside air can reach the pipes.
Leave heat on and set no lower than 55 degrees.
If you plan to be away from home, have someone check on your house daily.
Close foundation vents if the temperature drops below freezing for a significant period of time. Re-open when weather warms.
Putting a light near a chronic location where pipes freeze will keep the pipe from freezing. Be careful not to let the bulb or lamp get too close to any combustible surface.
If Pipes Freeze
Shut off water valves. Stopping the flow of water can minimize the damage to your home.
Call a plumber to thaw your pipes. Thawing yourself can lead to greater damage and can be a hazard.
If your pipes burst, call a plumber and your insurance agent.
Although we do NOT recommend thawing pipes yourself, if you do try to thaw:
Don’t try to thaw the pipes with an open flame or torch. Besides being a fire hazard, the torch’s hot flame may create steam that can burst a pipe.
Don’t use ungrounded electrical appliances outdoors, or near grounded water pipes.
Be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around water.
Never start a debris fire to warm pipes.
When thawing pipes, always work from the open faucet toward the frozen area. This will keep steam from being trapped by ice and bursting the pipe.
The safest approach to thawing a frozen pipe is to wrap a towel around the pipe at the suspected area and pour hot water onto it. Slide the towel along the suspect pipe and keep adding hot water until you reach the area where it is frozen. This method will never overheat the pipe or create a fire danger. Be sure to have the faucet or valve turned on so you’ll know when the water begins flowing.
A quick and effective method to thaw pipes is to use a hair dryer, but it can also pose some risks. Never let the pipe get hotter than what you can touch – you don’t want to get it so hot that it generates steam. As long as the pipe feels warm it should be enough to thaw the ice.
For more information, call Buncombe County Cooperative Extension at 255-5522.
ASHEVILLE NC – We’re expecting some dangerously low temperatures, so be sure to be prepared.
One of the primary concerns is winter weather’s ability to knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time.
Cold Weather Tips
When going outside, wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight clothes. These will help keep you warm while pulling moisture away from your body. A hat will preserve body heat and a scarf over your mouth will help keep cold air out of your lungs. To guard against frostbite, cover all areas of your body.
Mittens vs. Gloves. Gloves may be more fashionable but mittens can actually provide better warmth. With your fingers touching each other inside mittens, they generate more body heat than when they’re inside gloves.
Drink plenty of fluids. You may not be sweating, but breathing cold air dehydrates the body.
Protect your eyes and skin. The sun’s radiation and the wind can damage your skin and eyes. Wear sunscreen and sunglasses that screen out the UV rays. Sunlight reflecting off snow can do a lot of damage to your eyes.
Monitor weather conditions by knowing the latest weather updates.
Basic Motor Vehicle Safety in Cold Weather
Make sure your vehicle has been winterized. Get a tune-up, have the battery checked, make sure the vehicle has enough antifreeze and check the tire tread and tire pressure. Ensure that windshield washer fluid is full. Salt from the roads gets sprayed onto your windshield and can impair visibility.
Store an emergency kit in your vehicle. It should include jumper cables, flashlight, ice scraper, snow brush, small shovel, sand or kitty litter, cell phone, blankets and flares.
After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold
Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).
ASHEVILLE NC – If weather conditions make it unsafe for the trucks, garbage and recycling collection will be cancelled until conditions improve. Cancellations are announced over local radio and TV news broadcasts.
It must be safe for the collection trucks to complete their regular routes without endangering life or property; please be aware that conditions outside your own neighborhood may prevent the safe collection and transport of your materials, and that it must be safe for the drivers to pick them up.
If collection is cancelled for only one day, collection days are shifted one day later for the rest of the week, i.e. Friday rather than Thursday and Saturday rather than Friday.
If collection is cancelled for more than one day, cancelled collections will be made up on your next regular collection day, with all refuse being picked up.
Waste Pro of Asheville residential waste and recycling collection will be delayed one day in observance of Christmas. Customers scheduled for service on Thursday will be served on Friday and Friday customers will be served on Saturday.
Commercial solid waste and recycling customers will be serviced either the day before or the day after the Holiday.
ASHEVILLE NC – The outlook for a bright leaf season is improving, as Western Carolina University fearless fall foliage forecaster Kathy Mathews has updated her prediction about the quality of the annual color show, based on changing conditions in the mountains.
“The weather patterns that we have been having in Western North Carolina in recent weeks should mean a brighter display of fall colors than originally thought,” said Mathews, an associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics. “The drier, sunnier weather improves our chances of a brilliant fall color season.”
Mathews bases her color forecast in part on weather conditions. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, especially in the spring and September.
Although a wet spring with above-average amounts of rainfall originally pointed to an autumn with spotty colors across the mountains, the development of dry conditions in late August and September should improve the overall outlook and produce vibrant bursts of color, she said.
In addition, the seasonal forecast from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration calls for slightly above-average temperatures this fall in the Southeast. If that prediction pans out, the color season could be longer than normal, extending well into November, Mathews said.
The timing of “peak color” is difficult to nail down and is dependent on the decreasing amount of sunlight that comes with the passing days, plus the elevation of a particular location, she said. The peak of fall color typically arrives during the first and second week of October in the highest elevations – above 4,000 feet – and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations of 2,500 to 3,500 feet. An early frost could accelerate the timing of peak color, Mathews said.
In any event, visitors to WNC always will find a pleasing leaf display somewhere in the mountains from September into November, with a vast palette of color made possible by the region’s more than 100 tree species, she said.
ASHEVILLE NC – The Cradle of Forestry in America invites the public to attend “Frog Love in the Pink Beds,” Feb. 15, 2014. The program’s indoor portion begins at 1:00 p.m. in the Forest Discovery Center and is followed by a guided walk to seek out frog habitats near the Center and along a portion of the Pink Beds Trail, returning by 4:00 p.m.
Warm, wet weather this time of year can pull frogs from their hiding places to find mates and lay eggs in woodland waters. The program explores this ages-old phenomenon that gives the hope of spring. The indoor slide presentation focuses on the natural history of the wood frog and amphibian conservation. The program moves outdoors about 2:00 p.m. to peek at the garden pool directly behind the Center that has been attracting frogs since its construction in 1996. If the timing is not right for frogs, it may be right for seeing eggs or tadpoles.
After a discussion by the garden pool, Cradle staff will host a guided walk to the boardwalks along the Pink Beds Trail to look for natural amphibian haunts and other features of the woods.
Since frogs love rain, the program will be held unless wintry conditions make travel to the Cradle of Forestry hazardous. Call the Cradle at 828-877-3130 with questions. The program is free, but donations are welcome.
The Cradle of Forestry is located in the Pisgah National Forest near Brevard, on NC Highway 276, 6 miles north of Looking Glass Falls and 4 miles south of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Daily operations and services for the 2014 season begin on April 12. Visit www.cradleofforestry.com for information about the Cradle of Forestry in America.
ASHEVILLE NC – On Nov. 20, the public is invited to an open house to learn more about the impacts and responses to this summer’s rainfall, and to discuss what the area can expect from future weather events. The open house, presented by the City of Asheville and UNC Asheville’s National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), will take place at NEMAC’s 116 Grove Arcade location in downtown Asheville.
The summer of 2013 saw record rainfall in and around Asheville, with storms dumping nearly 12 inches of rain in July alone. That volume of rainfall in such a short period of time presented new challenges to the City of Asheville as Public Works officials responded to incidents like landslides and sinkholes.
“This summer’s rainfall affected many people in our community and had a profound impact on infrastructure and property,” said Assistant City Manager Cathy Ball. “And as a community, we need to have a conversation about what steps we can to take to prepare for and minimize impacts from future storm events.”
The on-site technology provided by NEMAC will offer visitors computer simulations of rainfall impacts on Asheville, and even provide site-specific illustrations of flood and stormwater runoff impact. The City of Asheville and UNC Asheville’s NEMAC have been working together for the past seven years, largely collaborating on flood reduction and stormwater work.
Representatives from the City’s Public Works Department, Stormwater Services Division and Office of Sustainability will be on hand at the Nov. 20 open house to talk about the realities of heavy rain events, detail community responses from the city, and discuss options for preventative measures in the future.
“We really want the community’s voice in this discussion,” Ball said. “We want to hear from people who were affected and those who are concerned about what we can expect as we adjust to this new reality.”
The open house will take place Wednesday, Nov. 20 from 6-8 p.m. at the RENCI Engagement Site located in the Grove Arcade, Suite 116, One Page Avenue, Asheville, NC 28801.
For more information about this event contact Chief Sustainability Offier Maggie Ullman at (828) 271-6141 or [email protected]
ASHEVILLE NC – Just in time for the changing seasons, UNC Asheville offers the 2014 Western North Carolina Weather Calendar, complete with daily average high and low temperatures, phases of the moon and daily sunrise and sunset times.
Published by UNC Asheville’s Atmospheric Sciences Department, the unique 12-month calendar features Asheville climatological data including monthly temperature and precipitation normals, and monthly heating and cooling degree days, which have been completely updated based on the normals recently published by the NOAA/NESDIS/National Climatic Data Center with data from 1981-2010.
The weather may change, but the cost of the calendar has held steady at $7, postage included. Please make checks payable to “Weather Calendar” and mail to: Dr. Alex Huang, ATMS UNC Asheville, CPO 2450, One University Heights, Asheville, NC 28804.
ASHEVILLE NC – September 22 was the first day of Fall. According to The Farmer’s Almanac (published since 1792 and well known for its accurate weather predictions) our area should experience the following weather for the remainder of September and October this year:
16th-19th. Thunderstorms along Gulf Coast. Rain for Tennessee east, then fair.
20th-23rd. Hot and oppressively humid.
24th-27th. Fair, turning much cooler for Mississippi Valley east.
28th-30th. Widespread showers for most of the Southeast.
1st-3rd. Fair and cold; frosts invade parts of the Southeast.
4th-7th. Wet Tennessee Valley. Heavy rains Gulf States.
8th-11th. More frosty weather as it turns fair and colder.
12th-15th. Showery, then fair and blustery.
16th-19th. Pleasant early fall weather.
20th-23rd. Rain moves in, then quickly clears, becoming fair and cold.
24th-27th. Showers, turning fair and chilly.
28th-31st. Unseasonably chilly weather arrives for Halloween.
ASHEVILLE NC – Abundant rainfall during one of the wettest summers in Western North Carolina history may portend a dampening of the intensity of the fall color show this year unless autumn brings vastly drier conditions, predicts Kathy Mathews, Western Carolina University’s fearless fall foliage forecaster.
“With record rainfall during July, the trees in the mountains look healthy and green at the moment, and that’s a good thing for the trees,” said Mathews. “But leaf-lookers need to keep their fingers crossed for some drier weather in the next couple of months in order for us to see the development of vibrant fall leaf color.”
An associate professor of biology at WCU who specializes in plant systematics, Mathews bases her annual prediction in part on weather conditions, including rainfall, during the spring and summer growing season. She believes that the formation of higher levels of pigments in the leaves correlates with dry weather throughout the year, especially in September. The drier the climate, the more brilliant the fall leaves tend to be, with bright red colors especially dependent upon dry conditions, she said.
“There always will be plenty of color in the yellow and orange hues,” Mathews said. “However, if the days remain cloudy throughout September, there won’t be as much of a pop of bright reds on the leaves.”
Yellow and orange hues result from pigments that the leaves make year-round, hiding under the green color of chlorophyll, she said. As days get shorter and nights get colder, the chlorophyll will break down to reveal the pigments underneath.
On the other hand, the red pigments – anthocyanins – are manufactured by leaves mainly in the fall in response to cooling temperatures and excess sugar production caused by lots of sun, Mathews said. “Dryness also causes production of more red pigment,” she said. “Studies have shown that trees stressed out by dry soils and nutrient deficiency produce more red pigment in the fall. Ample sunshine and dry weather is the combination necessary for brilliant fall foliage.”
Another factor in the annual fall color show is temperature. “Cool nights in September, with temperatures dropping into the low 40s, release the yellow, orange and red colors because chlorophyll degrades faster at lower temperatures,” Mathews said. “Temperature may work in our favor this year, as we have seen relatively cool summer months. If this trend continues, colors may be more vivid despite the rainfall.”
In any event, visitors to the WNC mountains this fall should expect good yellow coloration in the tulip poplars, birches, beeches, and hickories, and oranges in the buckeyes, maples and oaks, she said.
And there is an upside to all the rainfall, even if it means less-vibrant fall colors – the leaves should hang around longer, “With healthy, well-watered trees, we should not see much early leaf drop,” Mathews said.
Depending upon the timing of the first frost, the peak of fall color should arrive during the second week of October in the higher elevations, and during the third week of October in the mid-elevations, Mathews said. Because freezing temperatures quickly degrade chlorophyll, leaves peak in color intensity about five days after a frost, she said.
The color change should begin at the higher mountain elevations in late September and continue through mid-November in the lower levels of WNC.
Regardless of when the peak is and how intense the hues are, visitors always can find good fall color somewhere in the WNC mountains, with more than 100 tree species in the Southern Appalachians. That means not only many different colors of leaves in the fall, but also a lengthy fall color season, Mathews said.