Bitter temps on the way

Published 11:12 pm Saturday, January 4, 2014

Suffolk avoided the snow that paralyzed much of the nation this week, but the city experienced a taste of the winter storm that set low-temperature records around the country.

And the worst might still be on the horizon.

Temperatures in Suffolk dropped to 18 degrees by 7:35 a.m. Saturday before climbing into the 40s through the afternoon. Factoring in wind chills, which were insignificant in the still air of Saturday morning, Friday morning was even colder, with gusts up to 35 mph dropping the apparent air temperature to just 12 degrees at 10:35 a.m. Friday, according to observations at the National Weather Service’s Suffolk Municipal Airport station.


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Officials on Friday announced school closures in Minnesota, New York City and other parts of the nation because of the bitterly cold temperatures across a swath of the nation from Montana to Michigan.

Students in Suffolk’s public schools are scheduled to return to class on Monday, and there was no hint from the school system that the plan would change. Indeed, temperatures early in the week should be relatively mild for this time of year. After reaching a high in the mid-60s on Sunday, they should return to the high-40s on Monday before beginning a plunge into the teens by Monday night.

The National Weather Service was forecasting a low temperature of 12 degrees on Monday night, with a high temperature of just 24 on Tuesday and a low back in the teens late Tuesday and moving into Wednesday. There is a 50-percent chance of rain, turning to a rain-and-snow mix on Monday.

The likelihood of dangerously low temperatures was a concern for at least one Suffolk property owner with knowledge about the construction of many homes in the city.

“Homes in Suffolk are not really built for extreme heat or extreme cold,” Harry Cross of Cross Realty said Saturday.

Cross urged folks in Suffolk to prepare themselves for the cold by letting their faucets drip during the time the temperature will be dropping.

Among the winter-weather preparation tips it offers online, the Federal Emergency Management Agency confirms that advice: “Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.”

Among other tips offered by FEMA are the following:

  • Bring pets and companion animals inside during winter weather, and move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas with non-frozen drinking water.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms in central locations on every level of your home and outside sleeping areas to provide early warning of accumulating carbon monoxide.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.