WASHINGTON – Snow-beaten residents of Oklahoma and Arkansas, who suffered through frigid temperatures last Thursday – one day after some areas were buried under as much as two feet of snow – expected a dramatic warm-up over the weekend. Poultry plants forced to close at midweek planned to make up lost production on Saturday and Sunday, according to the Feb. 11 edition of the National Chicken Council’s Washington Report.

Last Wednesday, a blizzard affected the region and left up to 24 inches of snow on the ground in some areas. The storm was the second in two weeks. At least a dozen poultry processing plants in Arkansas were closed on Thursday, USDA Poultry Market News reported, and some companies planned to operate on Saturday and Sunday.

In Arkansas and southern Missouri, three plants were closed on Wednesday,, and five ran a single shift resulting in an actual production deficit of 2.7 million birds (15.5 million lbs.), USDA Poultry Market News said. Although five plants ran a single shift, their production was reduced because of difficulties in transporting birds and employees getting to the plants.

Last Thursday, 12 plants were closed, and one ran a single shift resulting in an estimated production deficit of 3.4 million birds (19.5 million lbs.). And, on Feb. 11, plants were operating, but many were still having difficulties with transportation, resulting in an estimated deficit of 500,000 birds (2.9 million lbs.). USDA said it was aware of 3.9 million birds scheduled to be processed on Saturday primarily but also on Sunday. If this occurs, the total deficit for the week will be 2.7 million birds (15.5 million lbs.).

The morning of Feb. 10 was the coldest in recorded history – nearly -30°F – for some areas in the nation’s midsection.

However, weather forecasters predicted a dramatic change in temperatures, which were expected to go into the 40’s and 50’s over the weekend and possibly into the low 60s this week. If accurate, that could result in a temperature difference of close to 100°F in a single week, according to AccuWeather.com.