by Keno
One of the coldest Januarys in 30 years to grip the San Luis Valley and greater Crestone area caused many damaged water lines, vehicles that would not start, and was sending heating costs through the roof. Since New Year’s Day, all but one day up till January 18 had seen temperatures at or below 0°F, and on a few afternoons, the thermometer did not even reached the 10° mark.
The long spell of subfreezing weather hit the entire SLV and mountains and placed hardships on many. The Baca Grande Water & Sanitation office had to deal with a frozen sewer line on East Stream Way, and has been receiving calls about frozen pipes, while plumbers were busy dealing with those frozen water pipes all over the area. There was at least a 2-day wait in most of the valley to just get a plumber to visit your home, which for many meant no water until the plumber could show up. One Crestone plumber noted a 10-fold increase for such calls versus a normal winter day. The cold air along with frozen pipes was also causing boilers to break down. A few residents reported received bills of over $400 each just to fix frozen pipes in their homes, and in the Grants, Pam Finney had it even worse: besides the bill to fix a burst pipe, she noted: “All of my carpets are ruined, along with the flooring underneath!”
Our local mechanics have also been extra busy thanks to the weather, as cars and trucks were not starting because of either batteries weaken by the cold, or frozen thermostats and fuel lines. M&K Auto’s owner, Kalvin Rilling, has seen non-stop work thanks to the frigid temps. “We’re receiving 20 calls a day right now for cars that will not start”. He noted that was about 3 times the normal rate. He also said that he was selling much more antifreeze than normal, too. “Most people only have the coolant in their radiators protected to -10°, and we’ve been way below that on several mornings”.
In Crestone alone, as of January 18, 17 nights/mornings saw temperatures below zero, with 7 nights below -10°, including two record low readings of -16°. The record for most days with temperatures below zero in January for Crestone is 22 days. But if you live in the valley, (including Casita Park) it’s been even colder, with a few mornings seeing readings of around -25°!
This kind of cold weather could easily last into February, so be proactive to avoid problems and headaches from damage caused by the cold. Keeping a slow flow of water running through a faucet can save you from a major repair bill. Also check unheated areas in your home like crawlspaces and basements for unprotected water lines. Use pipe sleeves or insulating material to protect such pipes, including the hot water pipes. Plus make sure to close garage doors if water pipes are located in there, and open any cabinet doors in bathrooms and kitchens so warm air can circulate around the water lines in the event of a freeze.