2014-01-09 / Front Page

County, Nation Suffer Through Sub-Zero Temperatures

Wind, extreme temps can lead to hazardous driving conditions
By Chanin Rotz-Mountz

Tina Barnhart gathers shopping carts while braving the arctic blast Tuesday morning at the Giant Food Store parking lot. Countians awoke to sub-zero temperatures, with few venturing outdoors to work. Tina Barnhart gathers shopping carts while braving the arctic blast Tuesday morning at the Giant Food Store parking lot. Countians awoke to sub-zero temperatures, with few venturing outdoors to work. NEWS EDITOR

As a deep freeze moves eastward across the nation and temperatures continue to plummet, area residents are urged to keep monitoring forecasts and prepare themselves as well as their fourlegged friends accordingly.

Weather forecaster's predictions of a “polar vortex” making temperatures drop to their lowest point in the last 20 years came true Tuesday. Residents bundled in heavy coats, scarves and hats headed to work in wind chills reaching up to 20 below. Meanwhile, children from across the county remained snuggled in their beds as administrators from the Central Fulton, Forbes Road and Southern Fulton School districts took a proactive approach to the impending, arctic-like forecast making the decision to call off school Tuesday the previous evening. In addition, neither Southern Fulton nor Central Fulton sent kids to school Monday, with Central Fulton cancelling due to heating issues at McConnells- burg Elementary.

In preparation for what was to come, last Thursday Dave Holl, deputy director of operations at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, asked residents to outfit their vehicles with essential items ranging from food, water and extra-warm clothes in the event they experience dangerous travelling conditions or lengthy delays.

“Wind and extreme temperatures could lead to hazardous driving conditions, and dangerous wind chills will make it unsafe to be outside for any extended period of time.”

As Holl pointed out, temperatures have fallen into the teens and single digits across the state following last Thursday’s snow accumulation.

Given the situation, the state Department of Health is reminding residents to avoid possible health hazards such as avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning by refraining from using electric generators, camp stoves and other warming devices in closed spaces and keep warm. If the need arises to go outside, cover your ears, mouth, head and face to avoid frostbite.

Residents should also take steps to prepare their pets for this onslaught of bitter cold weather.

“While it’s easy to think that dogs are immune to cold because of their fur, the fact is that more dogs perish in the winter than at any other time of the year,” Joel Hersh, executive director of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team (PASART), said Friday. “Some are better able to handle the cold than others, but taking a few simple precautions can ensure an enjoyable winter experience for both pets and their families.”

PASART recommends following several simple tips to help keep pets safe during cold temperatures, including never leaving puppies, small dogs, older dogs or cats outdoors when the temperature dips below 40 degrees; raise a shelter several inches off the ground and cover the entry with a flap; place a fresh blanket, straw or cedar shavings inside the shelter, which should be large enough for the pet to sit and stand; use a plastic water bowl to ensure your pet’s tongue does not get stuck to cold metal, and change the water often to keep it from freezing; be alert for signs of frostbite and injury. Dogs’ ears, paws and tails are especially susceptible, and if frostbite is suspected, contact your veterinarian; and never leave your pet inside a parked car as it can act as an icebox trapping cold air inside.

With winter only under way for several weeks and more unpleasant weather likely to come, area residents are asked to refrain from calling 911 or their local Pennsylvania State Police barracks to request an update on road conditions. To check road conditions on state-maintained roadways, visit www.511PA.com or simply dial 511.

Meanwhile, local troopers from the McConnellsburg barracks have been busy in the last week responding to crashes across the county linked to motorists operating on ice- or snow-covered roadways. Among those was a vehicle pedestrian accident along the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70. Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Jeff Remeikas of Mc- Connellsburg was dispatched to East Providence Township near the Bedford/Fulton County line at 1:54 p.m. concerning a pedestrian who was struck while rendering aid to individuals involved in another crash.

Trooper Remeikas stated on Thursday, January 2, a 2002 Buick Century driven by Leonard J. Bellisario, 25, of Strongsville, Ohio, veered into the median strip and struck Jerry S. Mathis, 37, of White Plains, Md. Mathis was knocked to the ground having suffered moderate injuries. He was transported to UPMC Bedford by Raystown EMS.

Bellisario, who suffered minor injuries but did not require transport, was charged by state police for failure to drive on roadways laned for traffic.

State police also responded to a two-vehicle accident along Great Cove Road in Dublin Township last Thursday. A northbound 2011 Ford 350 operated by David E. White, 54, of Lewistown, crossed into the oncoming lane at 2:53 p.m. and struck a southbound 2999 Mazda Millenia driven by Kevin L. Evans, 24, of Mount Union.

Neither driver was injured and both were wearing seat belts. White will be charged with overtaking vehicles on the left, while Evans was cited for drivers required to be licensed.

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