116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Instead of buying Christmas sweaters for pets, Iowans should consider buying sweaters for water pipes to make sure they don’t freeze in the frigid temperatures expected for much of the state through the weekend.
“We’re booking through the holiday and into next week,” said Billy Clymer, general manager of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, with locations in Cedar Rapids, Marion, Iowa City, Waterloo and Davenport. “Right now, the pipes are just frozen solid. Once that warms up a little bit, we could see the burst pipes.”
Frozen pipes, icy roads and bitter wind chills will persist this holiday weekend before temperatures begin warming up next week, hitting highs in 40s Wednesday for Iowa City and Cedar Rapids.
For now, Iowans can expect dangerous wind chills of 20 to 45 degrees below zero though Saturday morning, the National Weather Service reported. Afterward, wind chills will slowly start to warm up but still hover around zero come Monday.
While snow is done falling — at least for now — strong northwest winds with gusts of up to 50 mph are blowing snow and causing near whiteout conditions in some areas.
Eastern Iowa north of Interstate 80 is in a blizzard warning through 6 a.m. Saturday, while south of I-80 has a winter storm warning until the same time. Parts of I-80 and Interstate 380 still were partially covered or completely covered by snow or blowing snow as of noon Friday, the Iowa Department of Transportation reported.
Travel in rural and open areas will get more challenging throughout Friday evening.
Wind will be less of a problem on Christmas Day, when most of Iowa can expect sunny skies, but temperatures still may only reach the teens, the Weather Channel reports. The real thaw starts Tuesday.
Gov. Kim Reynolds issued a proclamation Friday temporarily suspending regulations limiting the hours in which crews can deliver propane, diesel, natural gas and other fuels people need to heat their homes and businesses. The suspension lasts until 11:59 a.m. Jan. 1.
The bitter cold is causing some Corridor churches to cancel in-person services for Christmas Eve. The Cedar Rapids Christian Church, for one, canceled its service for Saturday, but invited members to attend the Christmas morning worship at 10 a.m. Other churches have virtual options for people who don’t want to risk travel.
There were no widespread power outages as of noon Friday.
Benjamin Franklin Plumbing had a full schedule of calls Friday, with many for frozen pipes, Clymer said. Mobile homes can be particularly challenging because most of the piping is under the home and needs special treatment to avoid freezing, he said.
“You can make sure your skirting is intact, and siding intact,” Clymer said. “Make sure your lines have insulation and tape on them to keep those lines warm.”
When someone’s pipes are frozen, plumbers try to apply heat gently to melt the block without damaging the pipe, he said. Homeowners or renters with frozen pipes may also use a hair dryer to blow warm air along the length of the frozen section.
- Let water run at a trickle on faucets
- Maintain home temperature of 55 degrees or higher
- Insulate pipes with pool noodles or even an old shirt
- Open cabinet doors so heated air can circulate around sink pipes
- Have a neighbor stop over while you’re gone to make sure water still is running
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