The Denton area is preparing ways to stay warm as temperatures drop into the teens and single digits.
According to the National Weather Service in Fort Worth, below-average temperatures are expected in Denton for several days.
“We’ve got a lot of chances for frozen participation and really cold temperatures,” meteorologist Monique Sellers said. “We are going to be dealing with this for a while.”
A chance of freezing rain was forecast for Wednesday night and Thursday morning, with temperatures dropping into the high 20s. On Thursday and Friday, temperatures are forecast to top out in the 30s, with lows in the 20s. By Sunday, the low is expected to drop 9 and on Monday, it is forecast to fall even lower to 1, with a high of 16. A 40% chance of snow is projected for Sunday, followed by a 60% chance of snow on Monday.
“We’ve got a couple of large systems that open the door for arctic air to move in,” Sellers said. “It sets us up for much cooler temperatures than we’re used to at this time of year.”
The average high temperature in Denton in February is in the upper 50s to low 60s, with the average low in the upper 30s.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty and what happens on Monday, but that will be when we have the better chances of snow,” Sellers said. “It will just depend on what we see over the next couple of days.”
The National Weather Service attributes the freezing temperatures to arctic air moving across the Northwestern U.S. and into the South Plains and Appalachians, producing up to a half an inch of ice.
Places to stay warm
The Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center, Denton Civic Center and several fire stations are open every day as temperatures drop into the teens and single digits.
“The safety of all the residents of Denton is a top priority,” Mayor Gerard Hudspeth said. “I have every confidence that the current policies the council has put place allow the city management and staff the tools needed. These tools allow them to respond quickly and decisively to help those that live in our city, especially those that are experiencing homelessness.”
Homeless shelter Monsignor King Outreach Center and community soup kitchen Our Daily Bread, both of which are under transition to operate under one name — The Junction — are also open during inclement weather. For Our Daily Bread, the hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. For Monsignor King, the hours are 5:30 p.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Sunday.
The Junction needs volunteers for 5-9 p.m. and 6-9 a.m. each weekday, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Volunteers may register at volunteer.thejunctiondenton.org.
Denton’s Fire Stations 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 will allow access to restrooms, sinks, hand-washing stations and water. However, no seating areas are provided, and face coverings are required.
Staying safe at home
Meanwhile, city crews have already begun preparing for ice and snow.
“I know the city had four sand trucks working through the night,” Battalion Chief David Boots of the Denton Fire Department said. “We’ve got them on standby.”
But Boots warned the dangers posed by such cold weather are not just in the elements.
“As far as home safety, people have already been running their heaters, so that’s great,” he said. “Still, we will get issues of people running propane heaters [indoors] and not having carbon dioxide readers. Propane heaters are meant for outdoor use, [but] they’ll bring them in. You get cold snaps like this and there’s deaths all over the country from carbon dioxide poisoning.”
Furthermore, Boots said, residents should keep space heaters away from combustible materials.
“Watch where you have the space heaters,” he said. “Have a clear area around them so nothing will catch fire. Make sure the smoke detectors are working and have good batteries in them. And you don’t want to leave it running somewhere.”
And for residents who have fireplaces, Boots said that if they are using them for the first time this year, they should be inspected.
“If … there’s no chimney caps on the top, animals [may have] gone in there and made a nest inside, which is fairly common, especially if you don’t have your chimney closed,” he said.
Other than that, residents should burn appropriate materials.
“Make sure that you’re burning firewood and not lumber,” Boots said. “Don’t burn Christmas trees, plywood or things with high-glue, high-chemical content that’s highly volatile and highly toxic.”
Denton ISD and other school districts in the area had not announced closures on Wednesday afternoon — except for Krum.
Krum ISD spokesperson Taylor Poston said classes there had already been canceled before inclement weather was forecast. The district also had already scheduled a half-day for students on Thursday.
“We usually try to have a decision about school closures by 6 a.m., and it is day by day,” Poston said. “We won’t necessarily have all students learn remotely if there’s a snow day.”
Denton ISD will also decide day by day for closures, and will shift to online instruction “if needed,” spokesperson Derrick Johnson said.
Argyle ISD officials will announce delays or closures through emails to parents, on the district’s website and on social media by 5:30 a.m., spokesperson Rick Herrin said.
Also on Wednesday afternoon, neither the University of North Texas nor Texas Woman’s University had announced plans to cancel or delay classes, but officials at both universities said they’re monitoring the weather.
At North Central Texas College, all classes on Thursday will be delayed until 10 a.m.
Impact on residents
At Day’s Hardware on University Drive, one faucet cover remained on Wednesday as residents prep for the cold weather.
“We had moved like 115 units in January of one particular SKU [of faucet covers], and we’ve moved 250 of that unit in February — most of that in the last two days,” owner Barry Day said.
He also said that electric space heaters sales were up, along with hand warmers, firewood, ice melts, deicers, pipe insulation and heat tape this week.
And at Tractor Supply Co. in Denton, faucet covers and firewood have been hot-ticket items, store manager Jeremy Boydston said. The retailer also specializes in animal-care supplies and outdoor heat lamps and bulbs, and those have been selling at a higher rate since Tuesday.
“This one really hit hard for our customers,” Boydston said.
As for caring for pets, Denton’s animal services manager, Randi Weinberg, urged residents to keep their animals inside as much as possible — especially dogs.
“You need to shorten their walks,” she said. “Their paws can get too cold on the ground when they are walking either on ice or snow. Encourage them to get exercise around the home and monitor the time they are outside in the cold.”
Weinberg said pet owners should check with their vets about clothing their dogs in severe cold.
“Especially with small animals, make sure their body temperature doesn’t drop quickly,” she said.
If dog owners keep their pets outside and bringing them inside is not an option, Weinberg warned that city ordinance requires an outdoor shelter.
“We do understand that some people do have outside animals. What is written in our ordinance is that they must have adequate shelter — a doghouse with adequate food and water,” she said. “Make sure the water is not frozen and the dog has blankets, and the structure must be elevated to prevent the dog from getting cold from ground temperature.”
Staff reporters Marshall Reid and Amber Gaudet contributed to this report.
PAUL BRYANT can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @paulbryant_DRC.