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Archive for Friday, January 3, 2014

What you need to know about this weekend’s ‘arctic outbreak’

January 3, 2014

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Around the time most of Lawrence is heading to work or school Monday morning, it will feel like 20 to 30 degrees below zero outside.

Billy Burford, a Kansas University junior from Olathe, tosses some powder at his 20-week-old puppy, Daisy, as the two play on the tennis courts at Veterans Park on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

Billy Burford, a Kansas University junior from Olathe, tosses some powder at his 20-week-old puppy, Daisy, as the two play on the tennis courts at Veterans Park on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.

Say hello to the term "Arctic outbreak."

That's what forecasters are calling frigid temperatures expected Sunday and Monday in Lawrence and across much of the country, said Bill Gargan, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Topeka. On top of sub-zero temperatures — which haven't been recorded in Topeka since the mercury hit minus 9 in 2011 — expect unremitting wind to make it feel even colder, Gargan said.

Here's the National Weather Service forecast for the next few days in Lawrence.

Today: High 33, overnight low 10, overnight wind chill minus 7.

Sunday: High 13, overnight low minus 9, overnight wind chill minus 29.

Monday: High 6, overnight low minus 2, overnight wind chill minus 16.

Tuesday: High mid-20s, overnight low 19.

Snow is expected this afternoon and evening, but accumulation probably won't be more than 1 inch, Gargan said.

Water pipes

It's already gotten cold enough to freeze pipes, so come Sunday and Monday there's a definite risk, said Mike Capra, owner of Vito's Plumbing at 645 Locust St. Close up any holes letting cold air into places it shouldn't go, such as exterior vents to crawl spaces or gaps in your home's exterior. If you've had problems in the past, leave a faucet running — turning on both cold and hot water lines — at a pencil-width trickle.

Frostbite

Frostbite can occur when temperatures dip past freezing and can lead to, in severe cases, amputation. People with reduced blood circulation and those not dressed in warm enough clothing are at increased risk.

At the first sign of redness or pain, people should get out of the cold and cover any exposed skin, according to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. People may not even notice frostbit areas, since they are often numb.

KDHE has advice for people with frostbite but who don't have hypothermia or need immediate medical care: Get into a warm room; immerse the affected area in warm (not hot) water or warm the area using body heat from another body part; don't walk on frostbitten feet or toes; don't massage the area or rub it with snow; don't use a heating pad, heat lamp or heat from a stove, fireplace or radiator, as the affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

Pet care

How well pets can handle the cold weather often depends on factors like breed and fur style, said Christine Newman, veterinary technician at Lawrence's Gentle Care Animal Hospital. "So if it's below freezing, keep them inside, or if you're in doubt, keep them inside," she said. "If you're getting cold, they're definitely cold."

Short-haired breeds like boxers and pit bulls aren't able to tolerate the cold as well as thick-furred dogs like shepherds, though owners of the latter should watch out for mats getting frozen, Newman said.

People should also keep house cats inside when it's really cold as they will seek warm shelter and could get lost, she added.

The Lawrence Humane Society, meanwhile, warns people not to leave pets in the car when it's very cold, as that can be considered neglect.

Cars

Cold weather is a test for car batteries, and a weak battery is likely to fail, said Micah Garber, owner of Garber Automotive Inc., 2216 W. Sixth St. Presuming your car does start, let it warm up before you hit the road.

"It can be detrimental to hop in a cold car with these kinds of temperatures and immediately take off," Garber said. "Transmissions don't like it. It's like you getting out of bed in the morning and taking off at a dead sprint."

Also watch tire pressure, as cold weather causes them to lose air, Garber said. And make sure antifreeze levels are adequate and that the antifreeze you use has a good engine protection level.

It's also a good idea to keep blankets in your car in case you break down and to keep your cellphone charged.

Eugene George chips away at frozen water in a water barrel for cattle at his farm south of Lawrence. George was out Friday morning feeding his cattle and dealing with temperatures in the teens and a windchill in the single digits. Temperatures will reach into the 30's Saturday but the National Weather Service is forecasting a low of -4 degrees Monday in the Lawrence area.

Eugene George chips away at frozen water in a water barrel for cattle at his farm south of Lawrence. George was out Friday morning feeding his cattle and dealing with temperatures in the teens and a windchill in the single digits. Temperatures will reach into the 30's Saturday but the National Weather Service is forecasting a low of -4 degrees Monday in the Lawrence area.

Agriculture

Local wheat farmers shouldn't have too much to worry about with the cold weather, said Bill Wood, director of Douglas County Extension. Soil in the area is fairly moist, particularly compared with other areas of the state, where wheat fields are drier and at greater risk for damage from cold weather, he said. Wheat is also at risk if there is insufficient snow cover to insulate it from the conditions.

Wood said there's a reason wheat is grown in the winter, as it has to get down to a certain temperature to acquire the ability to flower.

"Wheat is a pretty tough crop," he said, adding that cold weather is a greater concern in the spring, when plants begin to mature. "Wheat is like cats: It's got nine lives. It can take pretty tough weather and still be OK."

Comments

Lawrence Morgan 11 months, 2 weeks ago

An excellent review of things to watch out for - especially pipes and frostbite.

Darin Wade 11 months, 2 weeks ago

its actually a sign to care about others for example bring your pet and livestock To warmer shelter and so on ..its also its a sign of warmer weather for the north and south Watch next week it will come as a surprise Warmer Weather for the Arctic and north and south Americas..

Clark Coan 11 months, 2 weeks ago

On the front page today it says it will be -9 F tomorrow night but on the back of the Sports section it says -12F. Which is it?

Wayne Kerr 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Maybe it's going to be -9, but it'll feel more like -12? I always put more trust in the front page, but can we really trust the weatherman after the way they botched the whole prediction of the Mayan Apocalypse? It's going to be cold Clark, very cold.

Matthew Herbert 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Does it matter? There is no change in the way I dress or the activities I engage in from -9 to -12

Leslie Swearingen 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Guys, guys, guys! I am a sixty-eight year old grandmother and I will be out and about as usual. If you didn't know the temperature you wouldn't feel so cold. Just ignore it. It's not like this is the first time I have been cold or walked in the snow or on the ice and it probably won't be the last time. We go though this every winter. Along with those placards reminding renters they have rights maybe we need one to remind people from one season to the next how the weather does change.

Lawrence Morgan 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I forgot to mention in my post: why is school operating, or did I miss something? It doesn't seem right to have kids out there in the weather which will come on Monday. They could get frostbite or worse very easily.

Deb Engstrom 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Good grief. The kids are out playing in the snow today!!! They'll be fine at school tomorrow and I'm sure they won't go outside for recess.

Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Beware of this North Dakota type weather. It can take out a human being unsuspectingly.

Frostbite can also come quicker and somewhat unsuspectingly.

This weather is more powerful than most of us are aware.

Cille King 11 months, 2 weeks ago

I question the advice to let a faucet drip. Years ago we took that advice (overnight) and had our drain (drain with a low slope on an outside wall) freeze. It took days to thaw. Another time, one of our tenants left a faucet dripping over Christmas break. But they didn't clear the hair from the drain. So, the sink filled, damaged the cabinet, floor, the ceiling and cabinet below.

Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Exactly right. Global Warming could very well be what's causing this cold blast and extreme wind chills this far south. No doubt this will impact produce farms further south which of course will increase food prices.

Richard Heckler 11 months, 2 weeks ago

If folks go out sipping brew,wine etc etc etc and are having a fun time it might be a good idea to make sure participants without vehicles get home. BECAUSE if one should pass out along the way or maybe decide to take a nap along the way this person is likely to not make it into the next morning.

Use the buddy system on these very cold super wind chill days.

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