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How – and when – to protect your pipes from freezing

When temperatures fall below freezing, water pipes are at risk of freezing and bursting. They can release several hundred gallons of water per hour, resulting in a big – potentially costly – mess in your home.

>> Read more trending news

What causes pipes to burst?

Pipes burst because of the pressure that's exerted when water freezes. It can exceed 2,000 pounds per square inch, so it's no match for metal or plastic pipes, which will burst under this extreme pressure.

>> Related: 5 things you won’t want to leave in a freezing car

Ice particles can also cause problems in your pipes by blocking valves or other areas.

What should you do to protect your pipes?

When temperatures are expected to drop to about 20 degrees, you should take the following steps to keep your pipes from bursting:

  • Leave water dripping or trickling slowly from your faucets. This helps reduce the buildup of pressure inside your pipes. If the water stops dripping, it could mean that ice has formed and is blocking the pipe, providing a good indication that the situation needs close monitoring.
  • Closely monitor all pipes. This is especially important for those located in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls and near electrical outlets, because these have the most exposure to cold temperatures.
  • Learn where your water shutoff valve is located. That way, you'll be able to shut it off in case your pipes burst. If your home is built on a slab, your shutoff valve is probably near your hot water tank. If you have a basement, you'll probably find your shutoff valve there. And if your home is built on a crawl space, the valve will probably be located there, under the front wall of your house. If all else fails, you can also shut the water off at the city water line's covered box near the front of your home.
  • Open cabinets beneath sinks. This is especially helpful if the sink is on an outside wall, because this helps keep the pipes underneath it warmer.
  • Use an insulating dome or similar covering. This can cover and protect outdoor spigots.
  • Check the areas around pipes and hoses that come into your home. Look for signs of daylight or outside air that's getting into your home. Block the holes with insulating foam or caulk.
  • Wrap your pipes. Look for thick foam or fiberglass insulating sleeves, UL-listed heat tape or other insulating products at a home improvement store. Wrap your pipes tightly and secure with acrylic or duct tape, cable ties, or aluminum foil tape or wire every foot or so to make sure it stays secure. Wrapping your pipes isn't expensive, and it can save a great deal of money and aggravation.

'Cold-stunned' sea turtles suffering from hypothermia amid frigid temperatures

Have you noticed it’s cold?

>> Frozen Florida iguanas cold-stunned, but probably not dead

The recent freezing weather across most of the country has wreaked havoc on wildlife, including sea turtles along Texas' Gulf Coast. According to Texas Monthly, the turtles have been suffering from hypothermia, leading them to float near the surface of the water and putting them in danger of being eaten by predators or hit by boats.

>> Nor'easter leaves cars frozen, flooded after icy waters fill high school parking lot

The good news, though, is that emergency crews are helping nurse the turtles back to healthAccording to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, as of Tuesday afternoon, rescue crews had found 41 “cold-stunned” sea turtles in the water along the coast.

>> Read more trending news 

In December, the Texas State Aquarium took in more than 100 hypothermia-stricken turtles to rehabilitate them.

Nor'easter leaves cars frozen, flooded after icy waters fill high school parking lot

Thursday's nor'easter left families in Gloucester, Massachusetts, with flooded and frozen cars.

>> Watch the news report here

>> What is a Nor’easter and how does it form?

Ahead of the storm, a parking ban was issued throughout Gloucester and residents were told they could move their cars to municipal lots, like the high school. 

>> ‘Bombogenesis': What is it and why is everyone saying it?

During the storm, high tide came in and left the high school parking lot filled with water

Plows and tow trucks spent the day in the lot as owners came to find their cars totaled. 

"We almost died when we saw it, to be honest with you. It was just like unbelievable. We were like, it was shocking," said Kathy. 

>> On Boston25News.com: Major flooding reported along Massachusetts coast

The water rose to the roof of most cars, destroying the inside with salt and water.

"I found out because my buddy actually called me up and said, 'Dude, your Subaru is under water, hate to break it to you'," said Justin. "When I came down here all I could see was the roof of my car."

Friday was all about clean-up, calling insurance companies and getting the cars towed.

"We lost two cars in our home, our neighbors lost two, our other neighbors lost three," said Kathy.

>> Read more trending news 

Some of the drivers are just trying to stay positive.

"There's so much more to life than this right now, and you just got to move forward from here," said Justin.

>> On Boston25News.com: How much snow fell in your town?

WFXT reached out to the mayor to find out what they're doing about it. So far, officials say they have a high volume of requests and encourage people to just call their insurance companies if their cars were totaled in this storm. 

Weather vs. climate: Why a cold winter doesn't refute climate change

Call it fortuitous timing. Hours before U.S. President Donald Trump issued a tweet last week panning climate change, a University of Georgia climatologist offered a lengthy pre-emptive explanation.

>> ‘Bombogenesis': What is it and why is everyone saying it?

“What we are seeing right now in the United States is just … well … wait for it … winter,” wrote Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric science program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society.

>> What is a Nor’easter and how does it form?

Shepherd wrote that he would urge people to keep in mind that “weather is mood, climate is personality” and that weekly weather patterns say little about longer-term climate change.

>> Trump tweets ‘good old Global Warming’ could help with frigid temps

It came about 12 hours before Trump tweeted that forecasts were calling for record cold New Year’s Eve temperatures.

>> See the tweet here

Shepherd wrote that even as climate warms, the seasons will always change to winter and yield frigid weather, snowstorms and blizzards. After all, he said, winter is related to how the Earth is tilted on its axis as it revolves around the sun.

>> Read more trending news 

Concludes Shepherd: "For now, the message for this week and the next seven days is that winter is reminding us that it still exists and always will even as our climate warms. Prepare accordingly, stay warm and help others."

'Bombogenesis': What is it and why is everyone saying it?

It seems like this year's wacky weather term is "bombogenesis."

Every year, there seems to be a new weather term that grabs everyone's attention. But they're almost never new and they're always less fantastical than they sound. 

>> What is a ‘bomb cyclone’ and what will happen when it arrives?

This year's word is bombogenesis, a term that simply describes the rapid pressure drop in a storm system

While you may have not heard the term until recently, there have been many New England storms that have undergone the process of bombogenesis.

The nor'easter tracking up the U.S. coast this week will drop pressure fast as it strengthens, increasing its expected wind and precipitation. 

>> What is a Nor’easter and how does it form?

Typically, a storm with lower pressure has stronger winds and can produce intense rain or, in this case, snowfall rates. 

So now that we know this storm will drop pressure fast or undergo "bombogenesis," we are expecting some hefty snowfall and strong, damaging winds.

>> Read more trending news 

The wind could knock out power to many areas and cause problems with the frigid temperatures that will follow this storm over the weekend.

What Is A Bomb Cyclone?

What Is A Bomb Cyclone?

It's so cold in Texas, this car wash froze over

Perhaps it’s not the best day to get a car wash in Central Texas.

>> Read more trending news

If you were wondering just how cold it is in and around Austin, a picture taken Tuesday morning at a Pflugerville car wash might serve as an answer:

Noelle Newton, of Houston’s Fox 7, tweeted a picture Tuesday morning showing a car wash at an HEB in Pflugerville that had completely frozen over. 

According to the National Weather Service, it was 30 degrees in Pflugerville around 1 p.m. Tuesday. The temperature in Austin was 31 degrees, with a hard freeze warning in effect till noon Wednesday.

Tuesday's deep freeze stretched across a wide swath of the U.S., from South Texas to Canada and from Montana through New England. In Texas, freezing temperatures were reported in Amarillo, Lubbock, Dallas, Austin and Houston.

The Associated Press and the Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Look: It even snowed in Florida

It even snowed in Florida on Monday, as far south as the Cape Canaveral area.

>> Read more trending news

Viewers spotted snowflakes shortly before midnight in Seminole and Brevard counties.

Viewers recorded video and captured photos of snowflakes in the air in the Orlando suburb of Oviedo and in Titusville, located on Florida’s Space Coast.

WFTV  meteorologist Brian Shields said he received several verified reports of snow mixing into rain.

Supermoon 2018: 12 must-see photos capture New Year's 'wolf moon'

The new year kicked off with a stunning lunar display – the first supermoon of 2018, also known as the "wolf moon."

>> Click here or scroll down to see 12-must see photographs of the phenomenon

>> 2018 supermoons: Wolf moon rises on New Year’s Day

>> Read more trending news 

Dew point and humidity: What's the difference?

Relative humidity and dew point are often mistaken for the same thing and can be sources of confusion. But what are the differences between the two, and which is more relevant in everyday life?

>> Watch the video to learn more

>> Must-see: Niagara Falls is a winter wonderland in these stunning photos

Relative humidity and dew point both give us an idea of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere; however, only dew point is a true measurement of the atmospheric moisture.

>> When temperatures drop, don't be thrifty with your heat

Relative humidity is defined by the National Weather Service as the amount of atmospheric moisture present, relative to the amount that would be present if the air were saturated. But what does that really mean In short, the relative humidity is a function of both the moisture content in the atmosphere and the actual air temperature. By itself, it does not directly indicate the amount of moisture present in the atmosphere.

>> Could Niagara Falls completely freeze?

Relative humidity is calculated using meteorological variables such as vapor pressure, saturation vapor pressure, temperature and dew point. Without explaining the equation variable by variable, we can simply state that the relative humidity is determined by how close the air temperature is to the dew point temperature. The closer these values are, the higher the humidity. The further apart these values are, the lower the humidity.

>> Read more trending news 

Dew point is the term that most meteorologists use to describe the amount of moisture in the air. The National Weather Service defines dew point as the temperature to which air must be cooled to in order to reach saturation, assuming air pressure and moisture content are constant. In short, the dew point is an accurate measurement of the moisture content in the air. When talking about a certain day feeling “muggy” or “sticky,” the dew point temperature is the more accurate term to use.

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