Archived Story

Cold? what a relief

Published 12:25pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

One of the things we can be thankful for this holiday season is warm, spring-like temperatures.

Priceville Christmas Parade spectators basked in the sunshine wearing mostly short-sleeved shirts on Dec. 1. Similar attire was appropriate for the week following.

That certainly was not the case 50 years ago when Hartselle and Morgan County residents huddled close to the fire to ward off arctic-like temperatures.

The temperature dropped to zero at the Hartselle Electric Department and to four degrees below zero in Decatur on Dec. 12, 1962.

Water pipes froze, electric service was knocked out temporarily and natural gas customers were asked to cut back on their consumption to prevent a rate increase.

Electric department officials blamed the rapidly falling temperatures for a blackout that lasted for 15 minutes. The resulting high power demand was too much for some main lines, causing an imbalance in the entire distribution system. Thus, line workers were scheduled for night duty until temperatures reached normal levels three days later.

The dilemma for the gas department was also related to the weather. High customer demand followed the bitter cold temperatures and raised the threat of the city being pushed into a higher rate bracket with its supplier. To help prevent that from happening customers were urged to limit their demand by keeping shades, blinds and curtains closed, leave unnecessary rooms unheated, close all outside vents and pack any cracks in doors and windows.

Fortunately, Hartselle Utilities is better prepared today for weather emergencies. But we’d be wise to enjoy the warm days as long as they’re here and be prepared for the worst-case scenario. After all, the winter season doesn’t begin until Dec. 21 and in North Alabama you never know when the next deep-freeze will strike.





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