Dangerous cold returns today

Shelters, health care officials ready to help those in need.

Dangerously cold wind chills and single-digit temperatures will continue in Clark and Champaign counties today with a chance of more ice and snow before the week is out.

City shelters are preparing for the next rush of people seeking shelter from the extreme cold as health care officials warn of the consequences of extended exposure to the forecasted temperatures.

Those temperatures will fall below zero again, and wind chills will plunge to minus-20 tonight, according to News Center 7 Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.

“Our wind chills will stay below zero beginning (this) afternoon through Friday morning, with the worst of it on Thursday morning,” Vrydaghs said. “Thursday morning, frostbite can develop within 20-30 minutes, so people should limit their time outdoors.”

The arctic blast could break a 79-year-old record for coldest high temperature if today’s high remains in the single digits. Monday’s 11-degree high already beat the previous 13-degree high record set in 1958.

Scattered snow showers may cause slick roads and reduced visibility for drivers today, and snow may drift onto roadways and refreeze. A second system could bring a wintry mix Friday night into Saturday morning.

It’s likely the area will see a wind chill advisory this afternoon through Thursday morning, Vrydaghs said.

Interfaith Hospitality Network Director Elaina Bradley said her organization has seen a steady flow of individuals seeking shelter. She added that because of the extreme cold, IHN has adjusted its programming to help those in need stay warm.

“Anyone in need of emergency shelter can access those services at either our family or single women’s or emergency men’s shelter 24 hours a day,” Bradley said. “They won’t be turned away if they don’t have certain paperwork or something like that. As long as they are a Clark County resident we will provide that individual emergency shelter.”

Bradley said anyone in need of shelter can call 2-1-1 for help.

The most common cold-related injury is frost bite, Springfield Regional Medical Center Emergency Department Director Ruth Shade said. She also said residents should also beware of hypothermia.

Children are especially at risk during frigid temperatures, Shade said.

“They lose body heat faster than adults and they generally aren’t good at bundling up,” she said. “That’s really their best protection — to layer up, make sure they have hat, scarves, gloves, warm socks and adequate shoes.”

Individuals with frost bite feel cold and pain most often in their fingers, toes, cheeks and the end of their nose. Their skin can get pale, turn a little red, “but then it gets numb, and when it gets numb it’s hard to tell how cold they’re getting,” Shade said.

She said symptoms of hypothermia include intense shivering, lack of coordination and speech difficulty.

“Those are emergent issues. They need to be seen right now,” Shade said. “For the frost bite, (it’s) increased swelling, joints aren’t working real well. If there’s any blisters, they need to seek medical attention.”

Temperatures will remain in the single digits with a chance of snow today. Thursday and Friday will be dry and frigid before more snow hits Friday evening. Temperatures will climb back into the 30s as it snows overnight Friday, creating a wintry mix Saturday morning. Sunday may bring residual snow showers, Vrydaghs said.

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