As if the snow is not enough to deal with today, Tri-City residents also need to prepare for a very cold night.
Temperatures are forecast to fall to near zero tonight, or even a few degrees below, and the wind chill factor will make it feel more like minus 10. Temperatures will continue to be unusually cold Wednesday night, with lows in the single digits, according to the National Weather Service.
To prevent pipes from freezing, keep your home thermostat set no lower than 55 degrees. Keeping cabinet doors open under sinks also can help make sure warm air from the room reaches pipes. Leaving all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously also may prevent freezing.
If a pipe does break, open the cold water faucet nearest to the frozen pipe to relieve the pressure. Heat thawed pipes carefully, using heat tape, a hair dryer set on low or a light bulb.
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Firefighters recommend dogs be brought inside. Lights or heaters left in dog houses may ignite.
The snow can help protect plants from the cold, providing a layer of insulation above roots, said Darcy Waddell of Heritage Nursery and Garden Center in Kennewick.
But it can also damage the branches of evergreens. Knocking snow off branches and arborvitae can keep them from breaking, she said.
Covering outdoor plants with a sheet or blanket could provide some protection from the cold. But the best idea is not to try to grow plants rated above zone 5 on the U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zone map, she said.
Daytime temperatures also will be far colder than usual for November, with a high in the low 20s forecast today in the Tri-Cities and a high Wednesday only in the teens.
If you are outside and start shivering, don't ignore it. The Centers for Disease Control says it's an important sign that the body is losing heat. Persistent shivering is a signal to go inside.
Cold weather also puts an extra strain on the heart, according to the CDC. People with heart disease or high blood pressure should follow their doctor's advice about shoveling snow or performing other hard work in the snow.
Pets also can suffer in the cold.
Some Arctic breeds, such as huskies and malamutes, can handle the cold temperatures fairly well. But the smaller the dog and the shorter its coat, the more dangerous it is for it to be outside when temperatures are in the 20s or lower
* Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org