January 5-7, 2014, a wide swath of subzero temperatures impacted much of the United States, from Montana eastward to New York, and southward to parts of Oklahoma and northern Alabama. Several major cities recorded their lowest temperatures in more than 20 years. Monday, January 6, 2014, ranked as the 40th coldest day on record since 1900, with an average temperature of 17.9 degrees for the Lower 48. Minneapolis spent more than 60 consecutive hours below zero and Chicago spent nearly 40 hours below zero. January 7, 2014 set at least 49 records for daily low temperatures across the country. The low temperature of 4 degrees in Central Park in New York City was an all-time low for that date, and sections of Niagara Falls in western New York froze over. Even normally warm cities in the South were impacted. Atlanta recorded a low temperature of 6 degrees on January 7.

These sub-freezing temperatures resulted in extremely high demand for electric and gas utilities. On January 6, an estimated 2,200 customers of Columbia Gas in Ohio lost natural gas service, allegedly due to low pressures and operational issues of an interstate pipeline supplier. Unlike an interruption in electrical service, when an interruption of gas service occurs, the gas company cannot simply flip a switch to restore the gas service. Gas supply lines must be purged of air and repressurized. Once that occurs, the gas meters need to be brought on line to each and every customer. In addition, representatives of the local gas companies must go door to door to re-light gas pilots. This process can take days, depending on the scope of the gas service interruption.

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