Deep Freeze: Temperatures dip into danger zone
After a balmy start to winter this year, much of the state is now experiencing bitter cold temperatures more in line with January. With wind chill factored in, highs in the 20s and single digit lows will be the norm through New Year’s Day.
“We take precautions because we work outside a lot of the time,” said Joe Finkel, with the City of Marietta electrical department, who was part of a two-man crew fixing a failed traffic signal at Greene Street and the Williamstown Bridge Thursday morning. “I prefer the spring and fall because I don’t like it really hot either. And I used to work in North Dakota. But this is cold.”
Finkel and Shane Cochran were both decked out in multiple layers, gloves, earmuffs and safety gear as temperatures Thursday morning read 10 degrees.
“We’re not sure if this failed because of the weather,” Cochran said of the traffic signal sensor box. “But this is a lot of what we do every day.”
The National Weather Service offers tips on its website, noaa.gov, for dressing in cold weather, avoiding hypothermia and driving in snow and ice.
“I like to remind people to be prepared when driving, in case you have to get out of your car. Also, keep an eye on plumbing, take care of pets, all of that,” said meteorologist Tom Mazza, with the National Weather Service in Charleston, W.Va.
Mazza said arctic air will dip down over the region for the holiday, affecting much of the north, midwest and east coast. Snow is a possibility as the system moves through and the area could see a few flakes here and there, but nothing like what neighbors to the east in Pennsylvania saw.
“Yeah, 50 inches of snow, that’s what I call fake snow. It’s all lake effect and our area won’t see anything like that,” Mazza said.
While snow may not be the main concern with this system, keeping a house heated could be an issue for many in the area.
Brandee Nau, with Washington-Morgan Community Action, said their Winter Crisis Program is continuing for those who are eligible.
“They have to be in disconnect or have the threat of disconnect and be within the poverty guidelines,” Nau said. “If they use wood or propane to heat, they need to have 25 percent or less of wood or fuel.”
Face-to-face interviews are going on now through March 31 at the Marietta office, 218 Putnam St., from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and in Malta, at 50 W. Third St. during the same hours. For more information, contact Community Action at 740-373-3745.
Community Action also offers a Home Weatherization Program, though there is currently a waiting list. Installation of insulation, weather stripping, analyzing the home’s energy efficiency and other measures to help reduce heating costs are all offered through the program.
“We have a lot of options to be able to help people but they really need to come in to talk to us, because every situation is different,” Nau said.
¯ Today: Cloudy with snow possible, high 31, low 17.
¯ Saturday: Morning snow showers, high 21, low 4.
¯ Sunday: Partly cloudy, high 20, low 7.
¯ Monday: Mostly sunny, high 22, low 7.
Winter safety tips
¯ Warnings signs of hypothermia. Get medical attention immediately:
– Adults: shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech drowsiness.
– Infants: bright red, cold skin, very low energy.
¯ Recognizing Frostbite. Get medical attention immediately:
– At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin–frostbite may be beginning. Any of the following signs may indicate frostbite: a white or grayish-yellow skin area, skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, numbness.
¯ Follow these safety rules if you become stranded in your car:
– Stay with your car unless safety is no more than 100 yards away, but continue to move arms and legs.
– Stay visible by putting bright cloth on the antenna, turning on the inside overhead light (when engine is running), and raising the hood when snow stops falling.
– Run the engine and heater only 10 minutes every hour.
– Keep a downwind window open.
– Make sure the tailpipe is not blocked.
¯ Take precautions when working or playing outdoors:
– Wear appropriate outdoor clothing.
– Sprinkle cat litter or sand on icy patches.
– Work slowly when doing outside chores.
– Take a buddy and an emergency kit when you are participating in outdoor recreation.
– Carry a cell phone.
Source: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention