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January 6, 2014

Polar vortex brings Arctic temperatures to Athens

ATHENS —

It’s called a “polar vortex” by meteorologists.

But, the rest of us just say it’s just flat-out freezing outside.

Or, in the case of Monday and today, below freezing – way below freezing.

It’s also been a cold snap for the records, too.

Athens Utilities General Manager Gary Scroggins said the system set a peak demand around 10 a.m. Monday at 305 megawatts. The previous record was 291 megawatts set in December 2010.

“(The demand) then started backing off slightly to 276 megawatts,” Scroggins said. “We expect the load to remain about the same until around 4 this afternoon, then begin increasing again.

“We will almost certainly set a new peak Tuesday morning.”

Athens Utilities Customer Relations Manager Amy Golden asks that utility customers do the following to help keep the system stable during this period of below freezing temperatures:

● Avoid activities that put more demand on the system, such as running dishwashers and washing machines.

● If there is a power outage, turn off all lights and electrical heating sources.

● When power returns, gradually bring items back online to help maintain the quality of the power system and avoid a greater demand on the system.

The temperatures this morning could also “flirt with a record,” said Brian Carcione, a meteorologist with Huntsville’s National Weather Service office.

“As of right now, the high for Huntsville was 25 degrees. If it holds, it would tie the record low maximum back in 1924.

“The record low (for today) is 5, set in 1912,” he said. “We’re forecasting a low at the airport of about 4 degrees.”

And, Carcione said, a wind chill of 5-below is forecast for this morning.

The cold has delayed a major project downtown, she said.

The sewer work that would close Hobbs Street between Beasley and Thomas streets was expected to start Monday but was delayed to Wednesday and Thursday.

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