A chill in the air

Wind chill drops temps below zero

T-R PHOTO BY SARA JORDAN-HEINTZ Temperatures the remainder of the week will drop below zero, especially overnight and when wind chill is factored. Limit time spent outdoors, keep skin covered, and leave extra provisions for pets.

While Central Iowans got a taste of a White Christmas earlier this week, a blast of cold air has lingered, sending overnight temperatures into the negative.

Tuesday morning was met with a wind chill advisory with temperatures dropping as low as 30 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit).

“It wasn’t so much the wind, but the low temperature [for why the advisory was issued],” said Brad Fillbach of the National Weather Service in Des Moines, who monitors Central Iowa weather. “We may issue more advisories as the week progresses.”

Today will bring only a high of 8 degrees and a low of 3 degrees. Tonight’s chance of snow is set at 50 percent, with a wind chill of -10.

“The snow that will start Wednesday night (tonight) could bring up to two inches of snow off and on into Saturday,” Fillbach said.

Thursday warms up slightly with a high of 15 degrees, and a low of 1 degree. A 30 percent chance of snow could occur before noon. Snow is also likely on Friday, mainly after noon, with a high near 12 degrees and a low of -6 degrees. Saturday’s high will only reach 2 degrees with a 30 percent chance of snow after noon. A low around -10 is expected.

Limiting time spent outdoors can reduce the risk of hypothermia and frost bite. For example, at a temperature of 0 degrees, with a wind speed of 15 mph, it will produce a wind chill temperature of -19 degrees. Under these conditions, exposed skin can freeze in 30 minutes.

Frostbite starts with the skin becoming cold and prickling, turning numb. Red, white, bluish-white or grayish-yellow skin can occur, as well as it becoming hard or waxy-looking. Joint and muscle stiffness could create problems moving fingers and toes. Skin may blister. It is most common on fingers, toes, nose, ears, cheeks and chin.

Your body gets cold when the wind removes heat from the thin layer of warm air at the surface of your skin, from direct contact with something cold or wet, or from unprotected surfaces of your body such as exposed hands or face. Symptoms of hypothermia include: shivering, slurred or mumbled speech, slow, shallow breathing, weak pulse, lack of coordination, drowsiness, confusion, loss of consciousness, and bright red or cold skin in infants.

The risk of developing hypothermia increases with older age, exhaustion, certain medical conditions and medications, and alcohol or drug use. Children also lose body heat at a faster rate than do adults.

Bringing pets indoors, if possible, will help ward off weather-related sickness. Keeping dogs’ paw pads clean and dry can safeguard against injury. Ice accumulation between canine toes can lead to discomfort, which may result in cracking and bleeding, and trouble walking. Clipping the hair between a dog’s toes may also help reduce this buildup of ice. Ensuring proper shelter, providing a heated water bowl, and putting out additional food supply are ways to make outdoor pets more comfortable.

On especially cold days, limit time outdoors, and keep emergency supplies such as blankets and a first-aid kit in your car.

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Contact Sara Jordan-Heintz at 641-753-6611 or sjordan@timesrepublican.com