By Budd McLaughlin
After reaching close to zero this morning, temperatures are only expected to get into the upper 20s today as the Arctic cold keeps its grip on the area.
There will be a reprieve this weekend, however, as Saturday’s high will be near 50 and Sunday’s temperatures will be in the mid-50s.
Meanwhile, the extreme cold has caused the Limestone County and Athens school systems to open classes two hours later this morning.
Also, the Tennessee Valley Authority is asking customers to reduce power usage in an effort to deal with subfreezing temperatures that are causing a high demand for electricity across the Southeast.
In a statement, the utility said it expected demand to peak Thursday night and again this morning. The TVA said it is using all generating resources to meet the demand and asks customers to reduce usage through this afternoon.
TVA said its bulk electric system remains secure and stable, but any reductions in usage can help ensure a continued supply of power and avoid interruptions of service.
“When it’s below 20 degrees, each time the temperature drops one degree another 400 megawatts of electricity is needed. That’s almost as much as one of our larger hydroelectric dams,” said Tim Ponseti, vice president of TVA Transmission Operations and Power Supply. “Setting your thermostat two to three degrees below normal … can really help TVA manage the high power demand during this challenging time.”
Other suggestions to conserve power include postponing the use of electric appliances, such as dishwashers and dryers, and turning off lights and other electronics that aren’t essential.
The mild weather will be short-lived as another Arctic front moves in, bringing more temperatures in the teens and even single digits at the start of the week.