Goshen News, Goshen, IN

January 22, 2013

Winter's bite is felt in the local area

By SHERRY VAN ARSDALL
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — The higher the wind speed, the lower the wind chill.

That’s a simplified version of determining wind chill, said Evan Bentley, meteorologist at the North Webster U.S. Weather Service.

The forecast for today will be a high around 10 degrees and partly cloudy with a 50 percent chance of snow showers.

A wind chill advisory remains in effect until 11 a.m. this morning (Tuesday) with the possibility of the wind blowing between 10 to 20 miles per hour.

“That gives us a wind chill of minus 15 degrees below zero,” Bentley said. “It’ll be chilly. Even though it’s typical to have a cold snap like this in January, it’ll still be more of a shock.”

In the span of a couple days, the temperatures went from being 17 degrees above normal Saturday and Sunday to being 15 degrees below normal Monday and today, he added.

“If there was snow cover on the ground, the temperature would be colder, and since there’s no snow, the temps will be a couple degrees warmer,” Bentley said. “The ground generates heat and the snow acts as a cover over the ground. Snow radiates out better at night and makes the temperatures fall.”

Local weather observers indicated 1977 was the coldest January on record with an average temperature of 10.3 degrees. The average this year so far has been 28.6. The warmest January was in 2006 with an average of 36.1. Thanks to a huge blizzard, the snowiest January occurred in 1978 with 36.6 inches. The least snowiest was in 1935, when no snow was recorded. The total snow this month has been 1.1 inches, with 10 days left to go.

So the advice from the meteorologist: stay indoors in an heated area.

“If you have to go outdoors, cover all your exposed skin,” he said. “The wind chill could cause frostbite within 30 minutes for any exposed skin. This is the coldest air we’ve had in a while.”

The Health Department has issued an alert for people to beware of exposure to cold temperatures, outside or indoors, that may cause life-threatening health problems.

And make the following precautions to prevent cold-related illness and injury:

• Make sure you heat your home safely during power failures. Never use a gas or charcoal grill indoors because the fumes can be deadly.  

• Never leave candles unattended.

• Keep extra blankets, flashlights with batteries, matches, a manual can opener and first aid kit on hand.

• Monitor indoor temperatures as infants and persons over 65 years of age are more susceptible to cold. If you are not able to keep your home warm, make arrangements to stay with family or friends.

• Dress warmly when going outside. Maintain body heat by dressing in layers, including wearing a hat, mittens or gloves and a scarf or knit mask to cover your face including your mouth.

• Avoid being outside for prolonged periods.

Prolonged exposure to the cold can result in serious health problems such as frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite is an injury to the body that is caused by freezing. It can cause a lack of feeling in the face, hands, and feet. Skin may change to white or grayish –yellow color or even show redness in some areas.

If you notice symptoms of frostbite, seek medical attention.