Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs explains what the term Polar Vortex means.

Springfield, Urbana agencies ready to help as subzero wind chills prepare to blow into region

Bitter cold will settle in over the area starting tonight, with dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills that will threaten to break weather records.

A polar vortex will sink temperatures for the next few days, with today’s temps reaching the teens before dropping overnight to below zero, with residents waking up Wednesday morning to wind chills ranging from 25 to 35 below zero, according to WHIO Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.

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The frigid conditions will stick around all day Wednesday with highs hovering around zero and similar conditions are expected Thursday, with high temps forecasted in the low to middle teens and wind chills in the range of 5 to 15 below zero, Vrydaghs said.

She said some areas could see 40-below-zero wind chills, recalling a frigid stretch of days in January 2014.

“Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton all broke records for coldest daily low temperatures combined with spending more than 20 consecutive hours below zero,” Vrydaghs said. “It wasn’t just the cold, but more the wind chills that made that outbreak so extreme.”

Record cold temperatures for the area were set in 1966, at 2 degrees for the high and minus 10 degrees for the low, according to the National Weather Service in Wilmington.

The extreme temperatures mean organizations in Springfield and Urbana are undertaking measures to accommodate people who need to get out of the cold.

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The Springfield Soup Kitchen will operate as a warming center on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., said Fred Stegner, operator of the facility.

Stegner encourages people to contact 911 if their situation is severe.

The Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), a homeless shelter in Springfield, will be prepared to house more people than usual due to the extreme cold, Elaina Bradley, executive director of IHN, said.

The network will increase capacity at its two locations —Hartley House, the men’s shelter, 440 W. High St. and Norm’s Place, the women and families shelter, 501 W. High St.

Between the two locations, IHN will be able to house over 100 people, according to Bradley.

“We are continuously working with folks, meeting them where they are at, and hoping to end their cycle of homelessness,” Bradley said.

IHN’s locations are open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

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The City of Springfield encourages those seeking shelter to contact IHN at (937) 325-8154.

“You don’t have to be homeless to seek shelter assistance in these extreme conditions,” said Shannon Meadows, community development director for the city of Springfield.

The city has also coordinated with IHN to make sure emergency shelter overflow can be activated in additional locations, which will be managed on a “day-by-day, hour-by-hour basis,” according to Meadows.

“The city of Springfield works very closely with our housing partners,” Meadows said. 

Meadows also said people should check on their neighbors during the severe cold and call Information & Referral Services at 2-1-1 helpline for general information and referral.

Citizens may also request a welfare check by contacting the Springfield Police Division non-emergency line at (937) 324-7680.

Doug Crabill, community development manager for the city of Urbana, said people in need of shelter should contact the Caring Kitchen, an emergency shelter in Urbana. They can be reached at (937) 653-8443.

Crabill also said citizens are welcome to warm up in city of Urbana owned buildings.

The Caring Kitchen operates as a 24/7 emergency shelter for Urbana and Champaign County.

The Clark County Combined Health District urges citizens to be prepared for the cold weather.

“It’s never too early to start preparing,” said Clark County Emergency Management Agency Director Lisa D’Allesandris.

“We don’t want our residents to get caught unprepared for the extreme cold expected later this week, she said.”

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