DALLAS - Temperatures have dropped behind a powerful November cold front that is affecting all of North Texas.
Overnight lows are expected to fall into the twenties with a wind chill as low as 10 degrees in some areas.
The cold front barreled through Monday morning during Veterans Day events. Temperatures that were in the sixties were in the 30s just hours later. The front also brought high winds, with gusts of 40 miles an hour in some places.
The cities of Dallas and Fort Worth are taking steps to protect homeless people from exposure. Shelters, churches and city of Dallas officials are all working together to make sure no one is left out in the cold.
“If you're sleeping outside in this weather you could die. We're going to be in the teens with wind chill. 20 mph wind, this will be fatal weather. We will lose a few people to death and the cold,” said Pastor Wayne Walker, Executive Director of Our Calling.
For the first time as part of the collaborative effort, there is now a van that is helping the homeless get to shelters. But, by opening the doors at Our Calling, a church that serves as a day center for the homeless, the executive director is operating outside the city's law right now.
“What do we do? We violate the city's ordinance or we violate a much greater calling,” Walker said. “Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself, we have to do that.”
Under city ordinance, most churches are not zoned as homeless shelters. But Oak Lawn United Methodist expects to shelter around 80 people Monday night.
“It's against the law, but we're going to do it anyway. It's what God would do,” said Patricia Jones, with Oak Lawn United Methodist.
Dallas has prepared the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center as an overflow shelter in case other traditional shelters reach capacity. Doors there opened at 5:30 p.m. and it will close Tuesday at 7:30 a.m.
Unlike Our Calling, the convention center is doing background checks and the city says those with warrants for violent crimes will be taken to jail.
Bradley Eakin is grateful for places like the church.
“The last four years alone, I've known like eight people who have freezed to death on nights like this,” he said.
Eakin is making an emotional plea and hopes others like him will heed the warning.
“I hate to see people get hurt, be stupid and cause their own death. If you can help it, get off the streets. Come in,” he said. “Take it while it's there.”
“On any given night there are 1,000-2,000 unsheltered. We want to ensure city could step in and allow for that overflow,” said Monica Hardman, director, office of homeless solutions.
The convention center will also be activated Tuesday night. But the city hasn't yet decided if it will remain a permanent inclement weather option.
The city has been working with the group of churches that provide shelter on nights with dangerously cold temperatures. Hardman says the city will hopefully have a new policy which will include them by spring.
Fort Worth is also getting ready and providing extra cots and blankets to shelter operators and evaluating the possible need for an overflow space as well.
Fort Worth has street crews on standby in case any road sanding is needed.
Schools in Crowley ISD will open early Thursday because of the cold weather. The district says it wants to reduce the amount of time students have to wait outside in the cold. Elementary schools and the Crowley Learning Center will open at 6:30 a.m. Middle schools and high schools will open at 7 a.m.
Tuesday starts sunny and crunchy cold, but winds will diminish by the afternoon and get back into the low 40s. As the sun sets, temperatures will again plummet overnight into the 20s with light winds.
Wednesday will quickly moderate into the 50s with south winds and sunshine. That's an improvement, but still well below normal. Another cold front is in the forecast for Thursday with some clouds, but it looks to be dry. That will again keep temperatures in the 50s.
Friday and Saturday will have a lot of sun, with increasing clouds and a few sprinkles possible Sunday. Weekend temperatures will be back closer to normal in the 60s.