Old Man Winter paid a rude wake-up call to the area today, knocking temperatures to the lowest reading of the season.
The blustery cold front blew into Lawrence shortly after midnight, dropping temperatures from 34 degrees to 20 degrees by 2 a.m. The temperature continued to fall throughout the morning hours, bottoming out at 5 degrees at 7 a.m. An unforgiving 25 to 35 mph northwest wind yielded wind chills in the minus 30 range.
Frozen water pipes appeared to be the biggest victims of the cold blast.
"We've had a number of calls because of freeze-ups," said Marilyn Chaney, vice president of Chaney Inc., a local plumbing company. "Mobile homes have had lots of problems."
Mrs. Chaney offered two pieces of advice to deal with the cold. She said anyone with frozen pipes should not leave their home unattended because the pipes could break and flood the house. People should rely on a plumber to thaw the pipes, Mrs. Chaney said.
OUTDOOR hoses also should be disconnected from faucets, she advised. If hoses remained attached overnight, the faucet may be broken and could run into the house the next time it is turned on, Mrs. Chaney cautioned.
Other businesses that usually thrive in cold weather did not report a surge in customer calls today. A check of local towing services showed only a slight increase in business from cars that wouldn't start.
Likewise, Jim McDonald, director of the Salvation Army shelter, said 32 people stayed there overnight. He called that the "usual" number. McDonald said it would be "hard to tell" if the number would increase tonight.
The temperature is expected to be colder tonight. Greg Zamarripa, forecaster for the Kansas University weather service, called for a low of minus 3 degrees overnight.
THURSDAY should be warmer, though. Zamarripa said the strong northwest winds will change direction overnight and come from the southwest. A chance for snow flurries exists Thursday, but the temperature should climb to 30 degrees. Friday's high should reach 34, he said.
Before the warming trend returns, people and pets should take care in the bitter cold. Barbara Schnitker, director of nurses for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department, said people venturing outdoors should wear layers of clothing and either a hat or scarf to retain body heat. Other dos and don'ts include eating well-balanced meals, avoiding over exertion, laying off alcohol and staying dry.
Dr. John Bradley of the Bradley Animal Hospital said outdoor pets should be brought into a heated garage or inside the house whenever the temperature is colder than 15 degrees. He said pets also should be brought in if the wind chills were colder than 15 degrees.
AS THE temperature warms Thursday, Bradley said, pets can be returned outside. Dog houses should be insulated, have warm bedding material and openings should be to the south or east, away from cold winds.
More chow should be the order of the day, he said.
"Dogs need more food to maintain their body heat," Bradley said. "Some dogs increase their food intake by 50 percent."
He also said dogs need more water to digest their food. Water supplies should be checked throughout the day, Bradley suggested.