The extremely cold air mass that has settled in this Valley has been a real change for us, especially for the fact that we were experiencing unusually warm temperatures in early December, right up to the days that this cold weather set in. The temperatures these last several nights have dipped into the low to mid-twenties, which are not record setting but certainly well below the averages. The coldest day on record for this area was 18 degrees Fahrenheit which occurred once in December 1932 and then again in January 1949. It looks like these sub-freezing temperatures will be with us through Saturday morning with milder weather coming thereafter.
These very cold nights have been tough on people, animals and farmers' crops. And the longer the severe cold stays to greater its impact. When there are multiple cold days in a row, the ground cools off, buildings, roads, etc., all lose their retained heat, so furnaces and other heater types have to work harder to keep living conditions comfortable. Energy costs also go up as people try to keep warm.
This is a good time to keep an eye on neighbors who may not be able to keep their houses warm owing to having limited funds or inadequate heating systems. Times like this require neighbors to help each other, especially the most vulnerable like the elderly, people with long-term illnesses, children and the homeless. Pets also need to be taken into account, since they often have to stay outside. Plants are vulnerable and outside water pipes are subject to freezing as well, so those items require protection from the cold as well.
In the lower foothills where many people live and work, there can be black ice on the roads. I experienced this first hand on Sunday when I came across an area that received little direct sunlight. The rain and snow had become road ice which made for very slick conditions. This is especially dangerous on two-lane roads where loss of vehicle control can easily end up in a head-on crash situation. Patches of road ice can form so motorists need to be extra alert.
During past cold spells, warming centers have been opened up for people to avoid the life-threatening temperatures. While these warming centers have not been activated so far this year, they can be opened if the need arises. Many volunteers have collected and donated coats and jackets for people who need them which might be why the warming centers have not been needed yet.
It is prudent to be prepared with the right protective measures and well as being mentally prepared.