'Polar vortex' already brings cancellations|
Antigo is bracing for a potentially historic blast of cold air beginng tonight, and just the warnings of what’s to come is causing early school closures, cancellations, and, in at least one instance, businesses closing early.
The reason? A “polar vortex,” as one meteorologist calls it, which will send cold air piled up at the North Pole down to the U.S., funneling it as far south as the Gulf Coast.
After a relatively balmy mid-teen high this morning, the top temperature on Sunday is expected to struggle to reach 10 degrees below zero, and it won’t be much warmer than that for the Packer-49ers game in Green Bay.
And it only gets worse from there, with highs Monday perhaps reaching 12 below zero and Tuedsay, seven below, before temperatures begin to moderate by midweek.
Factor in wind chills and conditions will be downright dangerous in Antigo and across the region.
In preparation, Antigo school officials announced Friday that classes would be cancelled across the district on Monday. Elcho and White Lake Administrator Bill Fisher said a decision in those districts will follow on Sunday, but students are likley unplugging their alarm clocks in anticipation of the announcement.
Classes were cancelled for Monday across the Northcentral Technical College system and the Antigo Public Library announced late Friday that its storyteller/author presentation with Joni Hahn slated Monday afternoon would be rescheduled to a later—and hopefully warmer‚date.
Even businesses were taking precautions. Roundy’s announced that for the safety of staff and customers, all Pick ‘n Save, Copps and Metro Market stores will close at 8 p.m. on Monday due to the extreme cold temperatures expected in the area. Stores will reopen at 6 a.m. on Tuesday.
Similar decisions are being made across the state.
Milwaukee and Madison schools will close Monday due to the extreme cold.
Milwaukee Public Schools announced the closing on the district’s website. The Madison school district released a statement Friday saying its schools will be closed, evening activities have been cancelled and the school board’s Monday meeting has been postponed to Wednesday.
Schools in the Kenosha and Racine districts also will be closed Monday.
Gov. Scott Walker’s office said Friday morning the governor was considering whether to cancel classes statewide. Walker’s office later issued a statement backing off on that position, saying the governor is encouraging local school districts to make their own decisions.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton says all public schools statewide would be closed Monday.
The weather is already taking a toll. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office says a man found dead outside his Milwaukee home Friday died of hypothermia.
Officials say 66-year-old A.C. Anderson was found on the sidewalk outside his house with a core body temperature of 45 degrees. He was pronounced dead shortly before 8 a.m. His death was ruled accidental.
The deep freeze in Wisconsin was already breaking records ahead of the weekend, even before the coldest air of the season arrives. A record low temperature was set in Green Bay Friday morning, where the mercury dipped to minus 18. The National Weather Service says that tops the 17 below mark last recorded in 1979. Antigo also set a record Friday at minus 25.
The coldest air of the season is predicted for Sunday night through Tuesday. Bitter cold wind chills are expected to dip to 35 below to minus 50s.
Life-threatening temperatures could linger through Tuesday, according to the weather service. Lows on Sunday night could range from minus 10 to minus 25, with wind chills of minus 30 to minus 40. On Monday, highs will still be below zero, ranging from minus 5 to minus 15.
Wisconsin Emergency Management says those conditions could lead to major trauma in a matter of minutes. It says frostbite can occur on exposed skin in less than 10 minutes, and people are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, which is marked by shivering and confusion.
Wisconsin Public Service is encouraging residents to put safety first and offers the following information to ensure customers stay safe and warm.
Carbon monoxide poisoning can result from improper and/or inefficient burning of natural gas which can result from blocked furnace vents and/or insufficient ventilation. CO is an invisible, tasteless, odorless, poisonous gas that cannot be detected by human senses. At high concentrations, carbon monoxide can be fatal within minutes. Customers who experience flu-like symptoms should seek fresh air and immediately call 911.
Wisconsin law requires every home or apartment to have a CO detector.
Customers with high-efficiency furnaces and water heaters that vent through the wall (not into a chimney) should be wary of a buildup of snow or ice outside around the vent. High-efficiency equipment provides great savings, but a blocked vent could cause the heating system to malfunction by shutting off or, in extreme cases, leading to an accumulation of carbon monoxide in the home. Customers should check the outside vents to make sure they aren’t covered with snow or ice. Snow and high winds can provide conditions that result in blocked vents.
WPS advised customers to carefully clear the area around their natural gas meters, regulators and piping by brushing away the deep snow to help ensure their proper and continuous operation. Deep snow and ice buildup around gas meters can lead to meter damage, equipment malfunction and/or a disruption in service.
After a period of snow accumulation and warmer daytime temperatures, which are followed by freezing nighttime temperatures, residents should be on the lookout for the formation of icicles on roofs. If broken off, larger icicles formed above those devices could damage the meters, regulators and piping, causing them to malfunction or, in extreme cases, leak.
The Departments of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), Health Services (DHS) and ReadyWisconsin also teamed up to warn people about the upcoming bitter weather and precautions everyone should take.
Pet Precautions: While pets might seem to have built-in, warm winter coats, they too are sensitive to the elements. It is recommended to bring them indoors during this bitter weather. Dogs and cats can get frost bitten ears, nose and feet if left outside during bitter cold weather. Chemicals used to melt snow and ice can also irritate pets' paws - be sure to keep anti-freeze, salt and other poisons away from pets.
Cats sometimes crawl under cars and into the engine compartment, seeking shelter and warmth. Bang on the hood before starting the car on cold days to startle sleeping animals. And remember, just as cars heat to oven temperature in summer, they can be equally deadly in winter when they turn into freezers. Don’t leave your pet alone in a vehicle. It may freeze to death.
Livestock Precautions: Animals can suffer from hypothermia, frostbite and other cold weather injuries. Harsh conditions weaken their immune systems and open the door to illness. Calves and swine are especially susceptible to cold. Make sure animals have a place to get out of the wind, even if it is just a windbreak or a three-sided shelter. Also provide dry bedding to protect them from frostbite. Animals also burn extra calories to keep warm in severe cold. They also need access to fresh water – not frozen streams or snow. Stock tank heaters and frost-proof watering devices will ensure that livestock get enough to drink.
“Livestock owners need to provide extra nutrition, plenty of good bedding, and protection from winds and moisture,” state humane veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Bellay said. “Calves often have undetected pneumonia that kills quickly when the temperature drops. Be particularly careful with animals that have recently been brought here from a warmer climate or that have been indoors and are now outdoors. If they’re not acclimated, they’ll suffer more winter illness.”
On the road: If you are traveling make sure you have a winter emergency kit in your vehicle. Items to include in the kit are candles and matches, a flashlight, pocket knife, snacks, a cell phone adapter, a blanket and extra clothing. Also check with 511WI for road conditions.
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