Bitter cold, snow on tap for weekend in Pittsburgh
Windchills forecast to be well below zero today; another dusting possible as well
February 12, 2016 11:49 PM
People are bundled up against the cold as they wait for a bus along Stanwix Street, Downtown, on Friday.
Pedestrians cope with the wintry weather Friday along Stanwix Street, Downtown.
A heavy snow squall blows through South Market Street in New Wilmington, Lawrence County.
By Lexi Belculfine / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Frigid temperatures and biting winds today could be inconvenient, uncomfortable or downright dangerous, with frostbite setting in within 30 minutes — unless, of course, you’re a red panda or polar bear.
While those animals are frolicking in the inch or two of snow expected to fall through today, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium will be closed to visitors through Sunday, just one of today’s many weather-related delays, cancellations and closures.
A windchill advisory is in effect through 9 a.m. Sunday, with whipping arctic air making today’s highest temperature — around 11 degrees — feel like minus-10 or lower, said Alicia Miller, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.
Tonight could be the year’s coldest, if the temperature drops to the anticipated 1 degree, even more frigid than the seven single-digit days in January. The windchill will make it feel as though it’s in the negative teens, Ms. Miller said. Sunday is expected to peak around 17 degrees, “but the wind will be backing off, so the windchill won’t be as much of a factor.”
The arctic front and a following lake effect snow could bring a 1-inch dusting today, on top of an inch of snow that was expected to fall overnight, she said.
Frostbite can develop within a half-hour when the temperature hovers around zero and winds reach 15 to 20 miles per hour, said Michael Turturro, chief of emergency medicine at UPMC Mercy. He recommends staying inside or wearing layers if you have to be outside, where you should stick with a friend and stay well-hydrated.
Police and emergency personnel will be asked to check on the city’s homeless population and advise them of the cold weather and, if need be, transport them to shelters or warming centers, and Animal Control will enforce city law prohibiting pets from being left outside during the extreme weather, according to the mayor’s office.
City fire Chief Darryl Jones said warming shelters can provide a good option for those without sufficient heating this weekend.
“The biggest risk is using alternative heating sources and setting your house on fire and using alternative heating sources that end up causing carbon monoxide poisoning,” Chief Jones said.
He recommended following space heaters’ instructions, such as not placing them near items such as furniture or curtains or using an extension cord, and never using gasoline in kerosene heaters or home appliances for heating, which can increase the level of carbon monoxide in a home.
Four regional Citiparks Community Centers will serve as warming centers from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Sunday: Brighton Heights Community Center, Homewood Community Center, Sheraden Community Center and South Side Market House.
The Red Cross recommends other cold weather precautions such as preventing pipes from freezing and using generators outside, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests slowly doing outdoor chores and being cautious about travel.
All that said, the organizers of Cupid’s Undie Run say there’s no shame in runners wearing layers under their skivvies today while they raise money for the Children’s Tumor Foundation by dashing the mile course or one that has been shortened for warmth’s sake.
“The idea was to be running in their underwear, but this is the one exception that we might want you to keep your pants on,” said race director Rachael Olbeter, adding that participants are welcome to just stay inside, too, and enjoy the party at McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon.
Lexi Belculfine: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1878 or on Twitter @LexiBelc.
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