Extreme cold hits central Ohio; Wind chills between 25 & 35 below zero

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Forecast update: Tuesday, Jan. 30 - 9:15 a.m. (Ross Caruso)

Typically we see temperatures begin to warm up a few hours after sunrise but that will not be the case today.

We have seen temperatures drop through last night and this morning, with temperatures hovering around zero so far. Our high temperatures will likely peak a degree or so above zero later this afternoon.

Winds will remain breezy, coming out of the west at about 10-25 mph. This will provide wind chills anywhere from 15 to 30 degrees below zero.

Wind chills will continue to be in the 10 to 20 below zero range through the rest of the day and night. Winds will back off later today but air temperatures will drop to around 5 below overnight, so it won’t take much wind for temperatures to feel like they’re in the 10 to 20 below range.

Subzero wind chills will likely linger into tomorrow afternoon, hence why most wind chills warnings/advisories are in effect until Thursday at 1 p.m.

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On top of the blustery and frigid conditions, we also dealt with a coating of snow across parts of central Ohio overnight and some snow squalls through parts of southern Ohio this morning.

We have had a couple of snow squall warnings issued so far this morning and some that are still currently active in southern Ohio. According to the National Weather Service, a snow squall is an intense short-lived burst of heavy snowfall that leads to a quick reduction in visibilities and is often accompanied by gusty winds. They may be characterized by one main squall or multiple squalls.

Leave extra time if you must travel during snow squalls as visibilities and road conditions will change rapidly. Reduce your speed and turn on your headlights too.

Staying safe

To stay healthy and safe in extremely cold weather, Columbus Public Health suggests:

  • Try to stay indoors. If you must go outdoors, make trips brief, dress in several layers of loose clothing and wear a hat and gloves.
  • Stay dry and out of the wind.
  • Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia such as slurred speech, confusion, uncontrollable shivering, stumbling, drowsiness and body temperature of less than 95°. Get immediate medical attention if you think someone has frostbite or hypothermia.
  • Keep emergency supplies in your car.
  • Check on elderly family, friends and neighbors.
  • Bring pets indoors.

Original forecast

The coldest air in years is filtering into central Ohio as we speak.

Not only are subzero air temperatures in the forecast but wind chills well below zero are also expected. The wind chill is a measurement that takes into account the actual air temperature and the strength of the winds to tell you what the combined effect "feels like" to your exposed skin. The colder it is the weaker the winds have to be to drive down the real feel temperature.

That's what makes this situation so dangerous, the bitterly cold temperatures AND the strong winds that we are anticipating.

It looks like the coldest wind chills will be in the late morning or early afternoon on Wednesday. When we're in the grips of the coldest air we'll have the potential for wind chills of -25 to -35 with a few isolated spots in the far north dealing with wind chills near -40. That's why all of Ohio will be under Wind Chill Warnings or Advisories.

Depending on where you are these go into effect Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning and are slated to expire Thursday afternoon.

The bigger picture shows even worse conditions. Wind chills are expected to get as low as -45 to -55 in spots from Chicago, Ill. to Fargo, N.D. There are 21 states that have or will have Wind Chill Warnings or Advisories because of the coming cold.

While it could always be worse, it could also be better. Juneau, Alaska is expecting wind chills in the mid to upper 20s on Wednesday. Calgary, Canada and Missoula, Mont. will feel like they're in the low double to mid double digits. You have to head over to parts of Wyoming or even Nome, Alaska to start seeing some of that bitter cold but even there it'll still feel better than what we're expecting.

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