Temperatures expected to be subzero; community urged to bundle up

January 21, 2013

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Temperatures in the region and in some parts across the state are expected to dip below zero degrees Fahrenheit tonight and during the early hours of Tuesday (Jan. 22). Wind will combine with the cold, causing the sub-zero temperatures.

Weather forecasters are calling this normal winter activity, however, Pennsylvanians have not experienced this type of temperature drop in years.

Penn State faculty, staff and students are urged to be prepared for this extreme cold and to dress appropriately if you must go outdoors. Some areas may see squalls of snow and wind chill values in pockets of the Commonwealth are predicted to force temperatures down as low as 15 degrees below zero. According to the National Weather Service, melting and refreezing may also create extremely icy conditions on roadways. Motorists are urged to use caution when traveling.

Exposure to cold can cause frostbite or hypothermia and become life-threatening. Infants and elderly people are most susceptible. In addition, pipes may freeze and burst in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat, and experts are urging homeowners and others to take precautions.

Wind chill, which is not the actual temperature but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin, is expected to increase. A wind chill of -20° Fahrenheit will cause frostbite in just 30 minutes. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately. If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. However, if the person is also showing signs of hypothermia, warm the body core before the extremities.

Animals also are affected by wind chill, so be aware of your pets needs and their outside activities.

Here are some tips for staying safe in extreme cold:

Stay indoors when possible.
--Walk carefully on snowy, icy, walkways.
-- Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack — a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
-- Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
-- Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, and the tip of the nose. If symptoms are detected, get medical help immediately.
-- Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness, and apparent exhaustion. If symptoms of hypothermia are detected, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
-- Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive
-- For more information on staying safe during extreme winter weather, visit the National Weather Service online at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/winter/index.shtml or the Federal Emergency Management Agency at http://www.ready.gov/winter-weather.


  • Penn State faculty, staff and students are urged to be prepared for this extreme cold and to dress appropriately if you must go outdoors.

    IMAGE: Annemarie Mountz
Last Updated January 22, 2013