On the minus side

Temperatures reach 12 below zero, many deal with weather-related problems

Jayson Bedker, with C.A.R.E. Cleaning and Restoration Experts sets up fans in a Madison House room that was flooded when a fire sprinkler froze Tuesday about 12:30 p.m. while residents were eating lunch and not in their rooms. One room was flooded and three more damaged from water along with the hallway for the rooms. Two fire trucks responded when the alarm went off. Since the fire suppression system was down for a day, each room was checked every 15 minutes, including throughout the night. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Jayson Bedker, with C.A.R.E. Cleaning and Restoration Experts sets up fans in a Madison House room that was flooded when a fire sprinkler froze Tuesday about 12:30 p.m. while residents were eating lunch and not in their rooms. One room was flooded and three more damaged from water along with the hallway for the rooms. Two fire trucks responded when the alarm went off. Since the fire suppression system was down for a day, each room was checked every 15 minutes, including throughout the night.

Temperatures in Cortez on Tuesday hit a record low for Jan. 15, according to a local meteorologist.

Meteorologist Jim Andrus said the temperature reached minus 12 degrees on Tuesday beating the old record low for the day by one degree.

The wind chill factor made the weather feel more like minus 35 degrees.

Andrus said a light northwest wind coupled with the already cold weather made things even more miserable.

"It was extremely cold this morning," Andrus said on Tuesday.

A few local businesses have been busy because of the cold weather and some residents are feeling the effects in their pocketbooks, too.

Bucky Sparks, owner of Sparks Heating and Plumbing Inc., said his business has been heating up since the cold spell hit about three weeks ago with water pipes breaking or springing leaks after freezing temperatures moved into the area.

"We can't catch up with our calls right now," he said.

He said the business has been receiving 50 to 60 calls a day for about three weeks now.

"One after another as fast as we can," he said, explaining how his employees are dealing with the increased workload.

He said his company does not go to houses or businesses to warm up frozen pipes in most instances, since there are more serious problems where their services are required.

"We only fix them after they are broken," he said. "They can be (repaired) in one hour to a few days."

Sparks remembered one instance where it took two weeks to repair and fix the broken water pipes at a home.

Carpet cleaning and restoration businesses have also been busy taking care of the clean-up jobs after the pipes break.

While minus 12 set a new record for Jan. 15, it was not even close to the all-time low in the city of Cortez. On Feb. 8, 1933, temperatures bottomed out at a jaw dropping minus 31 degrees. That was the temperature without any wind chill factored in.

"We still have a long way to go to beat that," Andrus said.

He also said sub-zero temperatures are pretty rare in Cortez and Montezuma County with the typical year seeing one to two days when temperatures dip below zero.

"It has been extra cold this year," he said, mentioning that in the first 15 days of January, there were eight days with temperatures below zero degrees.

The normal high for this time of year is 42 degrees, while the low is 16.

"We are a good 15 to 20 degrees below normal," he said. "We are definitely in the deep freeze."

Part of the reason for the colder than normal temperatures is the snow on the ground that is not melting.

Andrus said he is still measuring four inches of snow on the ground and the white stuff is one reason for the bitter weather.

The snowstorm that brought almost eight inches of snow to Cortez in the middle of December has not melted much, and subsequent snowstorms added to the amount that was already on the ground.

"It's been one solid month," he said of snow being on the ground.

He said the colder air is being reinforced by the cold air coming in from Canada.

Andrus also said six water pipe leaks have recently occurred at the apartment complex where he works, a direct correlation to the prolonged freezing temperatures.

Andrus said the forecast is calling for temperatures to warm up later this week, though the lows will be in the single digits in the morning.

On Friday, temperatures were a little higher but the wind chill factor was still well below zero in the early morning. The extreme cold weather is expected to be moving out for the weekend with temperatures for Saturday ranging from single digits overnight to highs in the mid-30s. Sunday is expected to be a little warmer than Saturday.

michaelm@cortezjournal.com

Randon Mathews bundles up with a winter coat, hoodie, two knit hats and gloves for a short walk in the cold to a friendís house Tuesday morning. Enlargephoto

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Randon Mathews bundles up with a winter coat, hoodie, two knit hats and gloves for a short walk in the cold to a friendís house Tuesday morning.