In anticipation of the January cold blast that should be arriving today, the Hidalgo County Office of Emergency Management is issuing the following information for the Hidalgo County area:

As per the National Weather Service-Brownsville office, residents can expect the balmy mid-level temperature to morph into 40-degree temps combined with stiff northerly winds of about 20 to 30 miles per hour causing it to feel like it is in the 30s throughout Deep South Texas. Showers could accompany the front, making the situation feel even more uncomfortable.

Through Thursday night and Friday, temperatures will tumble through the 30s, possibly below freezing. Friday night and Saturday morning will likely be the coldest — in fact, the coldest the Valley has seen since 1989.

“Our main concerns are for that of the safety of our residents. We are concerned for those residents who may have never experienced prolonged freezing weather such as that which is looming ahead,” said Hidalgo County Judge Rene A. Ramirez. “That’s why we are taking proactive measures.”

“The one shelter currently open in Hidalgo County is located at the Salvation Army situated at Pecan and 23rd in McAllen. The county also does have a contingency plan in place to enact depending on the severity of the incident. We have also gotten in touch with the State Operations Center in Austin and activated American Sign Language translation services so that we can, with the cooperation of the local television media, broadcast this information in sign language.”

“We continue to keep a close eye on the front, too, to determine the stability of county services, and also through our Safety Department we are making sure our county employees, especially those that work out in the elements are protected and armed with the right information.”

The Hidalgo County Fire Marshal and Office of Emergency urges residents to heed the following advice: 

Fuel your vehicles. If the electrical grid shuts down because of power overuse, fuel pumps will not be operational.

However, if you don’t need to drive, STAY HOME or at another warm place. The roads, primarily overpasses and elevated areas, could become icy and hazardous.

Have a family plan and kit, just like in a hurricane situation. Food, water, medications and most importantly, a source of heat like blankets or coats.

Keep pets and plants warm. Cover outdoor plants and bring pets indoors or provide them with adequate shelter.

To avoid bursting and freezing pipes, let water slowly drip from the faucets in your home.

VERY IMPORTANT HEATER SAFETY:

If you have an electric heater, plug it directly into the wall or use a HEAVY DUTY extension cord. Electrical heaters use a lot of energy and plugging it into an inadequate extension cord could cause the cord to melt, leading to a fire.

Always monitor your heater. Keep flammable items and young children away from your heater.

If you are using a gas heater, ensure it is working properly to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.

Do not use outdoor cooking utensils like BBQ Pits for heat, or your stove in your kitchen.

Do not burn charcoal or wood indoors.

Lastly, ensure you have a working smoke alarm. Many fires every year are caused by faulty heaters or unsafe methods.

Hidalgo County emergency officials will continue to monitor the weather situation and issue advisories to the public through the media as necessary.  

Always know that public emergency information is available through 2-1-1 and the latest weather information will be posted on the Hidalgo County Web Site, www.co.hidalgo.tx.us.