Painfully cold temperatures and gusty north winds are expected to invade the Lawrence area tonight and Thursday, producing dangerous wind chills and potentially record-shattering low temperatures.
According to a forecaster at the Kansas University Weather Service, tonight's low temperature is expected to dip to 5 degrees below zero and north winds are likely to bring gusts of up to 30 mph.
The wind and the low temperatures are expected to combine to produce wind chills as cold as 40 degrees below zero. Wind chills are the combined effect of wind and temperatures, which make the temperature feel much colder to the skin.
Thursday's high is not expected to break the zero mark and Thursday night's low is predicted to plunge to 15 degrees below zero, said forecaster Rob Edmiston. If Thursday night's low matches the predictions, it would shatter the record low of 6 degrees below zero for that date.
MEDICAL experts are advising people to stay indoors when the wind chill drops as low as expected. But if people must go outside, they are advised to bundle up against the cold and the wind. Layers of clothing covering all of the skin and a hat are recommended.
Friday's temperature is expected to warm up to a high of 10 degrees, Edmiston said.
The extreme cold is the result of arctic air moving south out of Canada. The air is expected to hit the Lawrence area this evening.
The only snow in the forecast is light flurries that could be produced when the cold air and slight atmospheric moisture unite, Edmiston said.
Although most people are not thrilled with the five inches of snow already on the ground, area wheat crops wouldn't survive without it.
Jack Lindquist, Douglas County agriculture extension agent, said this morning that winter wheat would be killed by the extreme cold temperatures if not for the protective blanket of snow.
"The snow cover is a blessing," Lindquist said. "It's mandatory for the crops to survive. Otherwise, they would be killed easily."
THE SAME goes for area lawns, Lindquist said.
Farmers had hoped for more moisture to come with the snow, but Lindquist said he had heard no complaints since the dry snow is keeping the young crops alive.
Area plumbers have been reporting an increase of calls from residents whose water pipes have frozen from the extreme cold.
To help people keep their water running, the city water department has issued several tips on how to keep pipes warm during winter conditions.
The department suggests that water pipes in unheated crawl spaces be insulated and that residents leave cabinet doors under sinks open to allow warm air to reach the pipes. People also are advised to leave their heat on in their homes if they are leaving for an extended period of time so pipes don't freeze and break while they are gone.
Also, each household member should know where the inside water shut-off valve is located in the event an interior line breaks. Turning off the valve immediately can reduce the amount of water damage caused by broken lines.
AUTOMOBILE mechanics also have been working overtime because of the weather's effect on cars. They also have suggested ways of keeping cars running.
Harry Cain, of the service department of the Jim Ellena automobile dealership, said car owners could help reduce the odds of their automobiles dying a cold death by making sure all the fluid levels in their cars are adequate, especially the antifreeze.
Another way to keep the car alive in extremely cold weather is to install a device on the car's motor that can be plugged into an electrical outlet to keep the engine and its oil warm, Cain said. The device greatly increases the chances that a car will start after sitting out in the cold all night.