CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The weather outside might be more frightful Tuesday than any other Jan. 7 in state history, but people around the Kanawha Valley can take many precautions to prepare themselves and their homes for inclement weather.
According to Liz Sommerville, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Charleston, the predicted low temperature Monday night and Tuesday morning could reach minus 4 degrees, the lowest temperature the area has seen in more than a decade.
"This is pretty rare," Sommerville said. "We usually don't see temperatures below zero."
Sommerville said that if the NWS predictions prove true, Tuesday could be the coldest Jan. 7 the area has seen since the agency began recording temperatures more than 150 years ago.
The most common problems associated with such low temperatures include car problems and frozen water pipes, which can prove hazardous for people without packaged water on hand.
"People will want to protect outdoor pipes as much as possible, and drain them if they can," she said. "If you have a sink or anything up against a cold exterior wall, you may want to open up your cabinets so that the heated air from your home can get in next to the pipes in the wall."
Laura Jordan, external affairs manager at West Virginia American Water, said the company saw an increase in water main breaks Friday and normally anticipates increased issues with lines breaking in the winter months.
"We always anticipate an increase in water main breaks, and we make sure we have the resources in place to address them. We get calls all the time about water main breaks, but we prioritize them by certain factors," she said. "If there is a main break that is causing customers to be out of water, or if it's causing any type of property damage or creating a safety hazard, those are high priority."
Jordan said the company will repair main line breaks and other issues outside a property, but personal pipes that break are the responsibility of the homeowner, which is why it is necessary to take certain precautions during the winter months to avoid frozen pipes, she said.
"If someone feels like they may be at risk for their pipes freezing, or they don't think certain sections of their house are very well-insulated, the best thing to do is buy a foam pipe wrap that insulates your pipes -- especially ones in the exterior walls of a home," Jordan said.
"For people who don't have that opportunity, you can leave your water running -- a very small drip, the size of pencil lead -- to keep water constantly moving. We tell people that, typically, the cost of running that water for an extra couple of days is much less than the cost they would incur if it were to freeze and then burst."