A seal pokes its head above the icy and waters at Don D. Statter Harbor on Sunday. National Weather Service Juneau sent out a special weather statement Sunday afternoon warning residents of Arctic air heading through the panhandle. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

A seal pokes its head above the icy and waters at Don D. Statter Harbor on Sunday. National Weather Service Juneau sent out a special weather statement Sunday afternoon warning residents of Arctic air heading through the panhandle. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)

Cold temps and high winds expected to last throughout the week

Officials say check water pipes, boats throughout week

An Arctic front that welcomed this weekend is expected to continue into the week with cold temperatures and high winds forecasted to last until a break Friday, according to Rick Fritsch, the lead meteorologist at the National Weather Service Juneau.

“You do not want to get cold in this kind of weather,” Fritsch said. “We have not gotten through the worst of it yet.”

NWS Juneau sent out a special weather statement Sunday afternoon warning residents of Arctic air heading through the panhandle, and according to Fritsch, Juneau residents can expect the coldest temperatures to hit Tuesday morning and the extreme cold to continue into early Wednesday before warming up Thursday evening and into Friday.

Fritsch said temperatures downtown will hover in the upper teens to low 20s, however, the windchill will make it feel closer to single-digit negatives during the late overnight hours and early morning of the first half of the week.

“It’s not breaking any records this time around,” he said. “We get these types of temperatures at least once a year, but this can still be really dangerous.”

According to data, Sunday night hit the coldest temperatures recorded this winter season, reaching -2 overnight in the Mendenhall Valley. Comparatively, last season’s coldest temperature got down to -16 during the second week of January, and the coldest temperature on record is -22, recorded in January 1972.

Fritsch said it’s important for residents to keep an eye on their water pipes as they may be subject to freezing, and also encouraged people to make sure they are monitoring their pets when outside.

Breckan Hendricks, administrative officer of Engineering and Public Works for the City and Borough Juneau, said to prevent frozen water pipes, CBJ recommends preventive measures such as keeping a pencil-thin trickle of water running in the sink to keep water circulating, making sure crawl space vents are closed, pipes are properly insulated, heat tapes are plugged in and working, turning off hose bibbs and disconnecting hoses along with making sure they are insulated.

Hendricks said if someone experiences frozen pipes, CBJ recommends they contact a plumber or contractor, as she explained CBJ cannot thaw frozen pipes.

The emergency water turn-off number is 907-586-0393 which is in service from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. Monday- Friday. For assistance after-hours, call 907-586-2165.

Harbormaster Matt Creswell said no damage has been reported to him as of Monday afternoon, but said that could change on a dime with this kind of weather.

Creswell said he recommends boat owners run a safe space heater in their boats to keep anything from expanding and becoming exposed to the cold temperatures. He said freezing spray from the wind is less of an issue right now compared to making sure boats are not being damaged by the cold temperature.

“When the weather is this cold, you should be checking your boat daily,” he said.

Brad Perkins with Resurrection Lutheran Church’s warming shelter said with the temperature expected to come in below 20 degrees this week, the shelter plans to open early at around 9 p.m. if staffing allows, instead of 10:30 p.m. which is outlined on its website. Once doors open, patrons must arrive by 2 a.m. and depart by 7 a.m.

Perkins said since opening the shelter’s doors back in late October, the shelter has seen around 45-50 patrons every night, but last week hit a high of 60 patrons in one night. Perkins said this year the shelter has seen around 10 more patrons on average per night compared to last year.

Though Perkins said he would consider the shelter to be “pretty full” he emphasized that the shelter does not have a limit where it has to turn away patrons. All patrons are given a meal upon arrival, along with breakfast and coffee in the morning.

“There is no limit for us, we never turn anyone away,” he said. “That’s our job, we take everyone regardless of their condition — everyone is welcome, our goal is to make sure people stay alive.”

• Contact reporter Clarise Larson at clarise.larson@juneauempire.com or (651)-528-1807. Follow her on Twitter at @clariselarson.

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