Friday, February 04, 2011

Global warming

Stepdaughter Morgan and her husband are shivering today because the natural gas pipeline serving Tucson and Sierra Vista can’t handle the demand during the current record cold snap.

It’s 18 degrees in Sierra Vista this morning, compared with 30 here in northeast Arkansas.

Here’s how the Sierra Vista Herald covers the story:

SIERRA VISTA, Ariz. — The coldest temperature on record for Sierra Vista caused an array of heating and water issues for thousands of people in and around the city Thursday.

Southwest Gas estimates 4,500 customers in the country club area, south of Buffalo Soldier Trail to Hereford and on either side of Highway 92 were without gas after weather issues, as well as increased demand and a limited means of delivery, resulted in shutting down an area of service.

Residents should not expect to have gas restored for another two days, said Libby Howell, spokeswoman for Southwest Gas.

High demand for the only natural gas pipeline serving southern Arizona, coupled with increased demand on the suppliers of the gas itself, resulted in the outage, Lowell said. 

To prevent the dropping pressure from affecting even more customers, the decision was made to isolate one area of service.

“It’s like cutting off the tip of your finger to save your hand,” she said.

A record low of 3 degrees on Thursday morning saw that hundreds of residents throughout the area were without water due to frozen or burst pipes.

Area plumbing services reported a deluge of calls throughout the day.

“I’m answering phone calls probably every five minutes,” said Pam Whitecotton of Huachuca Plumbing and Blue Diamond Electric.

Calls were coming in from as far as Bisbee and Tombstone to Sierra Vista Plumbing, said Secretary Charity Urias.

“I’ve gotten at least 50 or 60 calls about frozen pipes,” Urias said.

Sierra Vista Fire Marshal Paul Cimino said that “at least 40 businesses have been affected by the freeze,” such as frozen sprinkler systems.

Cimino also said that the majority of medical calls that fire department personnel responded to in the first half of the day were the result of people whose chronic medical issues were aggravated by the weather in some way. 

On Fort Huachuca, more than a dozen buildings were without water due to freezing temperatures, said Media Relations Officer Tanja Linton.

Selected boiler systems on the fort will be turned down, while all those living on post have been asked to turn down their thermostats “to the lowest possible setting but not lower than 50 degrees.”

Linton said, “We’re trying to stay abreast of the situation and one of our priorities is to keep the barracks warm.”

Schools and all nonessential services on the fort were closed Thursday in an effort to “avoid the possibility of a complete gas shutdown to Southeastern Arizona communities, to include Fort Huachuca.”

The Post Exchange and Commissary will remain open, she said.

For those living in the Sierra Vista area who are without heat and cannot find shelter with friends or family, city officials, with the Sierra Vista Unified School District, established a temporary warming center at Apache Middle School.

“It will remain open as long as we need it,” said Sierra Vista Police Chief Ken Kimmel, who directed city staff as the incident commander of the Emergency Operations Center that was established at Sierra Vista Fire Station 3 in order to deal with the gas outage.

The shelter is designed to provide only heat, running water and basic facilities like restrooms for those without them.

Those who will be utilizing the shelter are asked to bring their own food, as well as sleeping bags, pillows and any pertinent medication or infant necessities. If arrangements can not be made for pets, they may be brought to the shelter as well, though they must remain in kennels or pet carriers at all times.

Similar temporary warming stations have been established throughout the county in Benson, Bisbee, Douglas and Willcox.

This is Southwest Gas’s press release:

Due to the unusually cold weather throughout many parts of the country, Arizona's natural gas supply has been impacted. Southwest Gas is working as quickly as possible to restore service. Additional Southwest Gas crews have been sent to area. It is anticipated that it may take several more days to restore service.

In the Tucson area, natural gas customers in the Rita Ranch and eastern foothills areas, and those in the Sierra Vista area south of Buffalo Soldier Trail, on both sides of Highway 92, and running south to Hereford, have been impacted.

If you live in these areas, you do not need to notify Southwest Gas because we are currently working to restore service as soon as possible. Customers are advised not to turn off their gas meter, use their natural gas appliances, and are also advised to set their thermostat to the off or into a non-demand position so that the furnace does not cycle on/off.

When service is being restored to homes and businesses, Southwest Gas personnel will directly contact customers. At that time, they will need access to the natural gas meter and entry. Also, inside and outside lights must be on and an adult home during the dark, evening hours.

Customers who currently have natural gas service are asked to conserve while service is being restored.

1 comment:

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