If National Weather Service predictions hold true, Athens is about to plunge into a deep freeze.
Athens is included in a wide-area of North Texas included in a Winter Storm Watch issued for Sunday and Monday. The alert calls for possible freezing rain or snow, with bitter cold.
Travel will remain difficult and extreme caution is advised. Sunday night the temperature is expected to dip to about 16 degrees. The cold could be accompanied by snow lasting into Presidents Day on Monday. Monday's high will stall at bout 20 degrees.
Data from the NOAA archives shows the low on Sunday won't challenge the all time Athens record for Feb. 14, which was a frigid 8 degrees in 1905. But, Monday could bring a record low for the date. The record minimum for Feb. 15 was 21 degrees set in 1905. The year, 1905 also holds the record for the coldest February with an average low of 20.9 degrees.
The freeze will continue into Tuesday, with a low of about 9 degrees predicted. NWS says that's pipe bursting cold. Be sure your pipes are wrapped, your outside animals have shelter and plenty of food and unfrozen water.
The temperature for Tuesday could replace the all time bone-chiller for Feb. 16, 14 degrees in 2007.
Since the current century began in 2000, Athens only experienced one day when the temperature dropped into the single digits. That was 7 degrees in January 2018. Athens also had a 10 degree day in January 2010. February lows for the period bottomed out at 11 degrees in 2011. March also contributed its share of shivers with the lowest being 14 degrees in 2017.
December lows have fallen into the teens on three occasions, with the coldest 17 degrees in 2016. There was even an early chiller in November 2019, when the low hit 16.
The lowest temperature ever recorded in Athens was -1 degrees.
As for snowfall, A pre-Christmas event on Dec. 21, 1929 dropped 16 inches on Athens on its way deep into southeast Texas. With the storm came record cold as temperatures fell into single digits as far south as Waco. But those who wanted a white Christmas were disappointed as the temperatures quickly rebounded to the 60s.