It’s going to be pipe-busting cold in the Midlands early Thursday, as temperatures are expected to drop into the teens throughout the region for the first time this winter.
The temperature is rising to the upper 40s in the Columbia area by Wednesday afternoon. It will fall to freezing by 7 p.m. and bottom out around 15 degrees at 7 a.m. Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.
Wind chills in the single digits -- thanks to winds of 15 to 25 mph and gusts at 30 mph -- also will make it a brutal Thursday morning in the Midlands. The wind chill could be as low as 4 in Columbia.
Thursday’s high might not top 32, and the low early Friday is expected to be around 20. Columbia flirted with the teens on Nov. 19, but the official low was 20. Last year, Columbia dropped into the teens six days in an unusually frigid January.
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While exposed pipes can freeze when temperatures hit the 20s, serious problems tend to pop up when the outside air is in the teens.
“In Southern states and other areas where freezing weather is the exception rather than the rule, and where houses often do not provide adequate built-in protection, the ‘temperature alert threshold’ is 20 degrees,” according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.
The best defenses against freezing pipes are to add insulation sleeves to exposed pipes or pipes in unheated crawl spaces, or to leave a faucet dripping a very small stream. The flow from a dripping faucet doesn’t necessarily prevent the water in the pipe from freezing, but it can help reduce the pressure that causes the pipes to burst, according to the insurance group.
Area school districts are monitoring the temperatures to decide whether to delay school starts, but no decisions have been made.