Last weekend’s record snowfall could pale by comparison to this weekend’s winter storm, a system that could bring significant snow and damaging ice Saturday, followed by wind and eventually bitter cold.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm watch beginning at 4 a.m. Saturday.
About daybreak Saturday, most of the area will see a mix of ice and snow that will turn to all snow throughout the day, but “the question is where is that mix line going to set up,” said McCall Vrydaghs, Storm Center 7 chief meteorologist.
Areas that get more of a wintry mix might get three inches of snow, while others could see six to nine inches.
Vrydaghs said ice could accumulate up to a quarter of an inch, and winds will pick up through the day Saturday, reaching their peak in the evening, gusting as high as 35 mph.
“That could bring down your power lines and your tree branches,” she said.
Temperatures will stay in the teens Sunday, but the wind could make it feel below zero. By Monday morning, the air temperature itself will be as low as -5 degrees with a wind chill pushing -15 degrees, Vrydaghs said.
With temperatures that low, it will be important keep skin covered — or not venture outdoors at all, said Dr. Mark Williams, a physician at Jamestown Family Medicine.
“If you do have to go outside, make sure you are dressing in layers and that you are limiting the exposure to your skin,” he said. “Try to get as much skin as you possibly can covered and try to spend as little time as you possibly can outdoors.”
Some, though, will be spending Monday morning outdoors at the MLK Dayton Memorial March that begins at 10 a.m. at the Charles R. Drew Health Center, 1323 W. Third St.
Williams said frostbite can set in within minutes.
“It doesn’t take very long at all, especially if it’s completely exposed skin,” he said.
A hand or foot suspected to have sustained frostbite should never be heated up with warm water or dryers, Williams said.
“I’ve actually had people burn themselves by trying to warm up their extremities with for instance a hair dryer,” he said. “A better way to rewarm yourself or rewarm an extremity would be to simply tuck your hand in your armpit or tuck your hand into your layers of clothes as opposed to some type of heating device like hot water or hair dryers.”
If skin stays pale, white or blisters, a person should seek medical care immediately, he said.
Friday and Saturday mark 25 years to the days Dayton recorded its second-lowest temperature in history. The -25 degree readings on January 18 and 19, 1994, were the coldest recorded during the 20th century. The only time the temperature dipped lower was -28 in February 1899.
Last Saturday brought the first one-day, 6-inch snowfall since Dec. 6, 2013.
The ice and snow expected this weekend will likely prompt a fresh round of traffic problems similar to those endured by motorists during the last bout of storms.
Since Jan. 8, nearly 3,500 motorists locally called AAA for help because they were stranded – about a quarter of the calls coming over a two-day period last weekend.
“The first winter storm often proves to be a challenge for motorists as they tend to forget what it is like to drive on slippery roads,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA spokesperson.
As this weekend’s storm moves closer, AAA is expected to activate a severe weather plan which triggers an “all-hands-on-deck” scenario for its Roadside Rescue Team.
Drivers should also have at the ready an emergency kit equipped for winter and dress for the weather, AAA advises.