Relief from cold snap arrives

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This satellite image that was taken Jan. 2, 2013, shows most of the East Coast of the United States covered in snow. The arctic air mass caused temperatures to plummet to single digits in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of NOAA)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- Life is quickly returning to normal following a bitterly cold arctic air mass that brought icy conditions with it as it swept across Tennessee earlier this week.

Rutherford County Schools and Murfreesboro City Schools reopened Wednesday after being closed Monday and Tuesday due to the wintry conditions.

Power has been restored to a section of Lake Forest Estates in La Vergne, where an outage was reported late Monday, prompting city officials to open three emergency shelters.

And the health and safety risks that often come with below-freezing temperatures have been mitigated for now.

The arctic blast that suddenly moved through the region Sunday began to loosen its hold Wednesday afternoon, and meteorologists with the National Weather Service are expecting temperatures to continue to rise across the Southeast by this weekend.

“Temperatures will warm dramatically through the rest of the week,” said Larry Vannozzi, a meteorologist in charge with the National Weather Service in Nashville.

He said the temperature is expected to reach nearly 40 degrees by this afternoon. By this weekend, it will be almost 60 degrees – a stark difference from just a few days ago.

“The temperatures dropped very quickly because of a strong arctic cold front that moved through the region around 6 p.m. Sunday,” Vannozzi said. “It was particularly cold (Tuesday) morning because clearing skies, light winds and slight snow cover on the ground all combined to allow the temperatures to fall to 0 to 5 degrees in most parts of Middle Tennessee.”

According to officials with the Tennessee Valley Authority, which supplies power to local utility companies, demand for electricity reached the second highest winter peak in its history Tuesday night.

Based on preliminary figures, the demand for power reached 32,490 megawatts as temperatures across the Southeast hovered at an average of 4 degrees. The demand for power was only 82 megawatts less than the record that was set in January 2009 when temperatures fell into the single digits as well.

Compared to the past two decades, Vannozzi said the bone-chilling conditions caused by this arctic air mass are worth noting.

“We have had several other comparable cold snaps during the past 20 years,” he said. “The cold snap (was) roughly the same intensity as ones that occurred in early 2009, early 2003 and early 1996.”

As of Wednesday, the National Weather Service did not have a comprehensive list of records that were set across the country just yet, he said.

“However, it is safe to say that at least several dozen record lows were set,” Vannozzi said. “Most of the records are in the East and South.”

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Murfreesboro, National Weather Service, NWS, Rutherford County, Schools, Weather
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