A polar vortex brought the Dayton area weather conditions that sent people to hospitals, set records, closed schools and crowded homeless shelters Wednesday.
The extreme wind chills created dangerous situations throughout the region. More frigid conditions are expected early today, followed by up to four inches of snow tonight and Friday, according to Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Dontae Jones.
“We’ve got this big spill of polar air,” Jones said. “We’re in the cross hairs of that.”
In Dayton, a new record for the lowest high temperature, 0 degrees, was reported Wednesday, two degrees lower than the previous record. Wind chills were -35 in Dayton to -40 degrees farther north.
Then temperatures will rise into the 50s by Super Bowl Sunday, according to Jones.
Across the region, a total of 11 frostbite cases were treated from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 11 a.m. Wednesday at Grandview, Soin, Kettering, Fort Hamilton and Sycamore medical centers and the emergency center in Huber Heights. Miami Valley Hospital reported two cases.
“Frostbite and hypothermia can set in in minutes,” Kettering spokesperson Elizabeth Long said.
Water line breaks were reported Wednesday in Riverside, Vandalia, Harrison Twp., Kettering and Lebanon, but more of those were anticipated later in the week as temperatures rise and the ground shifts.
AAA in Dayton reported responding to 300 calls for service, mostly because of batteries malfunctioning in the cold.
Dozens of local flights were canceled. Mail was not delivered in sections of Clark, Champaign and Butler counties.
More than 2,000 Dayton Power & Light customers in Darke and Mercer counties were without power Wednesday morning.
Multiple highway crashes were reported from Interstate 75 and Ohio 122 in Warren County to Interstate 70 at Airport Access Road on the northern edge of Montgomery County.
Dayton firefighters battled several fires and sub-zero conditions.
“This weather is ridiculously cold,” said District Chief Matt McClain. “Anytime we get weather like this, it seems like the call volumes increase.”
The American Red Cross will help residents of a home on Fountain Avenue find a place to stay after a kitchen fire, McClain said.
Pumper trucks have to be thawed out after calls. Firefighters were rotated in and out of extra medic units, and buses brought to fire scenes to minimize the effects of the weather and wet conditions on their efforts.
“When the fire’s burning, it’s nice and hot. But as soon as you put it out, now you’re dealing with the cold, now you’re dealing with the water,” McClain added. “In weather like this, you can’t get away from the cold.”
Despite the weather, Deno Mabry, 61, of Xenia, said he shoveled four sidewalks, including the Xenia Smoke Shop, to raise extra cash.
“It was rough,” Mabry said, while adding he planned to be back out today if more snow falls.
“If it’s snowing, I will be out there,” he said.
Billy Lampiasi, owner of the smoke shop, said, Mabry “tries to get out before I get there” and shovel himself.
“It definitely helps out when there’s a lot of snow.”
Hundreds of schools, businesses and churches were closed.
Due to weather-related school closures, Washington Twp., Montgomery County, had 18 students enrolled in a school-day-off program at its recreation center and opened its indoor playground in the afternoon.
In Beavercreek, senior center transportation services were cancelled for Wednesday and Thursday.
“All users scheduled for today and tomorrow have been notified, and we are working to reschedule their trips,” City Manager Pete Landrum said.
The Beavercreek Senior Center, 3868 Dayton Xenia Road, closed two hours early.
In Fairborn, rides were being provided to a warming station in the lobby of the Fairborn Police Department, 70 W. Hebble Ave. The facility is open around-the-clock. Call 937-754-3000 or 937-754-3102 to schedule a ride.
“Many of our local businesses downtown have closed due to the cold temperatures,” said Fairborn spokeswoman Meghan Howard.
The Bridges of Hope homeless shelter, 1087 W. Second St. in Xenia is staying open all day through Thursday. The shelter, which typically opens at 6 p.m. registered 41 people Tuesday night, Manager Jill Conkel said.
Greene County limited outdoor work time and offered extra breaks so workers kept warm. Parks and recreation staff started at 2 a.m. clearing parking areas and walkways.
The John Bryan Community Center in Yellow Springs is open around the clock, and anyone is welcome to stop in to get warm, said Village Manager Patti Bates.
“If there were a major power outage that caused a larger population to be displaced for a period of time, we would make sure they were accommodated here at the Bryan Center,” Bates said.
Waynesville Village Manager Gary Copeland said the Old Stage Kennel, 9069 Old Stage Road, offered to help with animals that are left out in the severe weather.
The village police department’s school resource officer, who has a commercial driver’s license and backhoe experience, plowed streets.
“When the schools are closed due to the weather, it makes him available to help out with our street maintenance department,” Copeland said.
Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak said deputies assisted a couple of motorists experiencing problems with disabled vehicles in cold, windy conditions. He advised anyone going outside or traveling to dress in layers and keep skin covered.
If traveling in a motor vehicle, people should at least half a tank of gas at all times and keep in the vehicle extra clothing and blankets, jumper cables, water and snacks in case the vehicle becomes disabled.
Forecasts called for temperatures of -7 and wind chills of 20 to 30 below into this morning.
Temperatures are expected to improve into the mid-teens today. As winds back off, wind chills should rise above 0, according to Jones.
Then, at 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, snow is expected move into the area.
By mid-Friday, 2 to 4 inches of snow is expected to accumulate.
“Friday morning’s commute is probably going to be a mess,” Jones said.
On Friday afternoon, temperatures are to rise above freezing into the lower 30s.
On Groundhog Day, Saturday, temperatures are to be as high as the lower 40s with partly cloudy skies.
On Super Bowl Sunday, Jones predicts temperatures in the lower 50s, with cloudy skies and showers at night.
“For the next 36 hours or so, it’s still going to be brutal,” he said.
WHIO reporter Mike Campbell and staff writers Chris Stewart, Will Garbe, Emily Kronenberger, Cornelius Frolik and Jeremy P. Kelley contributed to this report.
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