Shelby Alexander was troubled Tuesday. The furnace was broken at the Dickinson apartment she moved into after being displaced by Hurricane Harvey from her home in Bacliff.
On Tuesday afternoon, with temperatures hovering around freezing, she was having trouble getting her landlord to fix the problem or provide some other relief, she said.
“This morning it was 23 degrees,” Alexander, a mother of two working a delivery job at a Galveston restaurant, said. “I have one radiator heater and two small heaters, but it’s too much for the breakers.”
Unless she found some other way to heat the apartment, she planned to use an electric cooking stove, she said.
Galveston County was gripped by unusual cold Tuesday. In a part of the country where winter weather is usually on the mild side, freezing weather had some in the area scrambling for warmth and shelter.
The day began with some sleet falling on parts of Galveston County. Temperatures continued to fall throughout the day.
Temperatures stayed below 30 degrees for most the day. The sleet and the low temperatures caused some traffic trouble, including a minor accident on the Emmett F. Lowry Expressway in Texas City.
Ice was reported on the Galveston Causeway, although it didn’t cause any traffic disruptions, officials said. Crews from the Texas Department of Transportation spread sand and de-icer on bridges and overpasses.
At McCoy’s Building Supply in Galveston, store manager Taylor Jameson said space heaters had been a hot seller in recent days, with about two dozen being sold and only a handful of smaller heaters left on Tuesday afternoon.
Pipe insulation also was a big seller, he said.
At The Salvation Army shelter in Galveston, the only overnight homeless shelter in the city, Capt. Kenny Smith said he expected a 40 percent increase in the number of people staying overnight. The group doesn’t turn anyone who needs shelter away, he said. Extra cots had been laid out to meet the demand.
“I don’t know where they stay at any other time, but they’re here when it gets cold,” Smith said of the group’s clients. “They just come in.”
The shelter also extended its hours, allowing people to stay inside, away from the freezing temperatures outside.
While the freeze prompted some local cities to warn residents to wrap their pipes and bring their pets in from outside, there were no emergency cold shelters opened anywhere in the county.
Some people did try to find enjoyment in the winter weather.
Yesenia Leks walked with her husband and her brother-in-law on an otherwise empty beach, the three bundled in thick or puffy jackets.
Leks, from Houston, bent to pick up seashells on the hardened sand as waves rolled in behind her, near 40th Street and Seawall Boulevard.
Her brother-in-law, who was visiting from out of town, wanted to see the beach, Leks said. The family didn’t let the colder-than-usual weather deter them.
“It’s kind of a new experience, right?” Leks said. “A cold island.”
Leks kept her hands in her pockets, out of the path of the wind. If anything, the family would be able to get an ironic picture of them wearing heavy clothes on a stereotypically sunny beach, Leks said.
“We thought it would be cute and kind of weird in photos,” Leks said. “It’s very pretty. Cold, but pretty.”
There were no record lows set in Galveston County on Tuesday. The coldest recorded temperature on Jan. 2 ever on the island is 20 degrees, a mark set in 1928, according to the National Weather Service.
Still, the temperatures were well below average for the county. The average daily temperature on Jan. 2 is 55 degrees.
Temperatures in Galveston County were expected to drop to 30 degrees on Tuesday evening — with flurries of snow possible — and the county is under a hard freeze warning until 9 a.m. Wednesday.
Temperatures are expected to rise and clouds are expected through the end of the week. High temperatures could reach into the 60s by Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.