Health department advises precautions as frigid weather will soon hit Lawrence, Midwest

photo by: Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

Pedestrians cross an icy Chicago River on Madison Street near the Civic Opera House in Chicago on Monday, Jan. 28, 2019. (Rich Hein/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

As blizzards ravaged other parts of the Midwest on Monday, forecasters warned that the biggest danger is yet to come: frigid temperatures that the region hasn’t seen in a quarter of a century, the Associated Press reported.

Forecasters called the cold a replay of the “polar vortex” that bludgeoned the U.S. in 2014 — and maybe even colder, with wind chills by midweek as low as 55 below zero in Chicago, the AP reported.

Lawrence will see some of that frigid weather. Monday’s strong winds, which gusted above 60 mph, were expected to bring dangerously cold temperatures to the area this week. The local health department has also issued a reminder of precautions to take and warning signs of hypothermia.

Temperatures were expected to drop to around 18 degrees Monday night and top out in the mid-20s on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service in Topeka. A high of 11 degrees was forecast for Wednesday. A wind chill advisory will be in effect from Tuesday evening to Wednesday morning due to expected wind chill readings as low as minus 8 to minus 18.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department said in a news release Monday that high winds and low wind chills can make serious weather-related health problems more likely.

According to the release, hypothermia — which occurs when your body loses heat faster than it can produce it — is particularly dangerous because it can make the victim unable to think clearly or move well. Warning signs to watch for in adults include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness; in infants, warning signs include very low energy and cold, bright red skin.

Frostbite can cause permanent damage to the body and skin, and its risk is greater in those with reduced blood circulation and those who don’t dress properly for the cold. Warning signs of frostbite include white or grayish-yellow skin, numbness, and skin that feels unusually firm or waxy, according to the release.

To avoid cold weather-related illness, the department advises wearing clothing and accessories to cover your head, face and mouth, snug sleeves, mittens, a water-resistant coat and several layers of loose-fitting clothing. Wet clothing or perspiration will increase heat loss, according to the release.

Temperatures are expected to warm Thursday and possibly reach the 40s and 50s on the weekend, according to the NWS.

— The Associated Press contributed to this article.


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