Dangerously cold: Dayton wind chills not expected to top -15 today

With car engines not starting, pets suffering outside, and risk of human frostbite in as little as 10 minutes, the next 36 hours’ weather will be among the coldest the area has seen in recent years.

Wind chills were already near zero Tuesday afternoon and are expected to bottom out between minus-25 and minus-35 mid-to-late this morning, according to Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.

Winds are expected to blow a sustained 18 to 23 miles per hour, meaning the wind chill is not likely to get above minus-15 at any time today.

“If you don’t have to be out, don’t go out, especially at the coldest part of the day,” Vrydaghs said.

RELATED: Find warming centers throughout Miami Valley

“I’m so afraid of tomorrow,” said Dayton resident Laquita Curry, who walks to her job downtown. “I just keep on praying, and I’m going to get some more things to help me cover up so I can stay as warm as possible.”

Social media discussion of this cold brings out both tough talk — “I lived in North Dakota; this isn’t cold” — and folks who wouldn’t go outside if the winning Mega Millions ticket was on their sidewalk.

But for those citing much colder wind chills from years ago, remember that the wind chill system changed in 2001. The minus-59 degree wind chill for the Cincinnati Bengals’ famous playoff victory in January 1982 would register as a minus-37 wind chill today — just a bit colder than the expected late-morning chill today.

FORECAST: Keep up with the Storm Center 7 five-day forecast

Air temperatures will rise from a low around minus-6 today, to a high around zero, then back down to about minus-6 Thursday morning, Vrydaghs said.

The region is bracing for the cold in many ways.

** Dozens of schools, churches and senior centers from Lebanon to Springfield had already announced Wednesday closures by Tuesday afternoon.

** Governments from suburban Washington Twp. to urban Dayton and rural Brookville are making warming centers available for those who need a safe place.

RELATED: Up-to-date school and business closings in the region

** Waste Management is cancelling trash pickup today in some communities so workers don’t have to be out in the worst of the cold. In Kettering, today’s routes will be done on Saturday.

** AAA officials remind those driving in extreme cold not to warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage, and to keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up. FEMA urges drivers to have an emergency kit including jumper cables, food and water, blankets, and a wireless cell phone charger.

** Some local residents reported on Facebook that they had gone online to place 1-2 day holds on their mail delivery, so postal carriers’ routes are shorter.

** Dayton’s Department of Water has advised residents to avoid broken water pipes by trickling a small stream of lukewarm water from faucets and opening doors below sinks if the sink is on an exterior wall.

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This won’t be the worst wind chill Dayton has seen.

Vrydaghs said a 2014 polar vortex pushed wind chills close to 40-below, and the all-time low Dayton wind chill is minus-53 in January 1985. Storm Center 7 meteorologist Dontae Jones said the longest stretch of bad chill came at just this time of year in 1977, when Dayton’s wind chill was below zero for 99 straight hours (Jan. 28 to Feb. 1).

Vrydaghs said wind chills will be around 20-below very early Thursday morning. Thursday will remain cold, with highs in the low teens, but winds will gradually lessen. Friday’s high is forecast at 29 degrees, and Saturday at a balmy 41.

But for the next day-plus, bundle up and plan carefully. Some early signs of frostbite include numbness, redness or pain in the skin followed by a white or grayish-yellow look. Hypothermia which can be deadly, starts with symptoms like shivering, exhaustion, confusion, memory loss, slurred speech, and drowsiness. Infants and the elderly are more susceptible to cold.

“If you start to feel any symptoms of frostbite or hypothermia, you need to get inside immediately,” Vrydaghs said.

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Dayton’s coldest wind chill*

-53, Jan. 20, 1985

* - Applying current wind chill rules to that day’s conditions

SOURCE: National Weather Service

Dayton’s five coldest days

Actual air temperatures, not including wind chill.

-28, Feb. 13, 1899

-25, Jan. 18, 1994

-25, Jan. 19, 1994

-24, Jan. 20, 1985

-22, Feb. 10, 1899

SOURCE: National Weather Service


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