There’s a chill in the air for the region

TEXARKANA, Ark. — It’s time to bring out the heated blankets ahead of the first big chill of fall.

Temperatures are expected to dip below freezing between Tuesday night and sunrise Wednesday.

“Look for overnight temperatures to fall into the middle 20s to lower 30s,” the Shreveport office of the National Weather Service said.

Texarkana will see a low of 29 degrees. Hope could get down to 27, the NWS said. However, no weather advisories have been issued for the region.

The cold snap is unusual in that the first fall freeze usually occurs in mid-November, said Matt Hemingway, a meteorologist with the Weather Service’s Shreveport office. He said a high-pressure from Canada is following a cold front moving through the area, bringing the subfreezing temperatures.

The cold, however, will not alleviate the dry conditions that keep Miller and the surrounding counties under a burn ban.

“Despite rain that we’ve had recently, we are still looking at maintaining drought conditions,” Hemingway said.

The combination of dry air and high winds from the cold front are expected to keep the fire threat high by keeping humidity low.

“We discourage burning under these types of conditions,” Hemingway said.

The NWS encourages area residents to prepare now for the temperature drop.

“Prevent freezing and possible bursting of outdoor water pipes by wrapping, draining or letting them drip,” the NWS said.

Outdoor sprinkler systems should also be drained.

Hemingway said pets should not be overlooked.

“You may not want them outside during cold temperatures,” he said.

The NWS also recommends protecting tender vegetation from the cold. Better Homes & Gardens recommends taking the following steps to insulate plants during a cold snap —

• Move container plants indoors. “Moving plants to a space like a garden shed or growing plants in a garage will provide enough protection when it gets cold. However, when lows are near freezing, it’s time for an insulated indoor location.”

• Bring out the blankets. “Round up old bedspreads, blankets, and large towels. Drape them loosely over plants, supporting the material with stakes as needed. Be sure the plant cover extends to the ground in all places to create a small dome of insulation.” The coverings can be removed at midday to keep the plants from overheating.

• Use the cloche. “French for “bell,” a garden cloche is usually a rounded cover that acts as a mini-greenhouse around a single tender plant. A super easy garden hack is to make a milk jug cloche by cutting off the bottom of a gallon-size jug and placing it over a plant, making sure to push the bottom of the jug about an inch deep in the soil.”

• Water well. “The moisture in the soil will conduct heat to the soil surface, warming the area around the plant as much as 2 to 3 degrees Fahrenheit. When cold weather is forecast, water your plants well.”

• Add mulch. “A thick layer of mulch, such as shredded bark or compost, can help insulate tender plants. Cover the entire plant with mulch the night before low temperatures are forecast. Remove it when the weather warms up again.”

The forecast Tuesday calls for clear skies and a high near 60, with a north wind between 5 and 10 mph. On Wednesday, the day will be sunny, with a high near 62. By Friday, temperatures are expected to be back in the 80s.