LIMA — There is good news on the way for Northwest Ohio in terms of weather. We will experience temperatures near freezing, instead of sub-zero.
Tom Kines, meteorologist with AccuWeather tells us the reason for the frigid weather is thanks, in part, to Canada.
“It was their Christmas present to us,” Kines joked. “To really simplify it, it’s been the location of the jet stream. Jet streams up around 15,000 to 20,000 feet, it guides weather systems across the country. It also separates the warm air masses in the south from those cold air masses in the north. And when the jet stream plunges southward like it has recently, it allows all that cold air that’s been bottled up in Canada to push south. And that’s what we’ve been dealing with.”
While it is winter, and folks realize it’s going to be cold, this cold snap has been lengthy.
“I can tell you that it is highly unusual to have this kind of cold for this long. Usually we get these cold snaps, they usually last three, four or five days, but this is heading toward two weeks here. Highly unusual for it to last this long,” said Kines.
The good news is that we will be getting a reprieve from the frigid temperatures.
“This bitter cold is going to last into the first half of the weekend, and then it will ease up for the second half and on into next week. It certainly could turn colder again, but as far as this bitter cold, it’s going to be a while before this returns, if it does. We’re kind of easing out of this pattern. There will be days next week where we’re up close to the freezing mark. People will be celebrating,” said Kines.
Plumbing and heating problems
Not only does the cold weather affect residents, pipes are freezing and furnaces are working extra hard to keep us warm.
Pat Washam of Washam Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning, of Lima, has seen an increase in problems.
“There has been an increase, quite a bit, in plumbing problems. Normally you get a few days where it gets cold and it warms back up so people kind of get forewarned, but this time it came and stayed,” said Washam.
Washam suggests letting water trickle when the temperature drops.
“Pretty much once you get past the 10 degree mark, you want to at least have a trickle coming out. Especially if you are susceptible to prevailing winds, where the wind’s going to hit it. Even if it shows just 10 degrees, it’s going to be a little bit more cold because of your chill factor. The wind does a lot worse because it hits areas where the cold just doesn’t quite reach, but the wind gets between gaps in the foundation and a lot of the lines that run shallow,” said Washam.
With the slight warm up this weekend, people need to be on alert should their frozen pipes thaw.
“People need to be aware, to watch out that if they have a line that hasn’t had water coming through it that when it thaws out, there can be a break in it where it could cause damage,” said Washam.
Washam has had calls from customers with furnace problems during the bitter cold as well.
Washam recommends people make sure their furnace filters have been changed. He also forewarns people from shutting off spots in their house. Newer furnaces require airflow and if the registers are shut off, the furnace may shut down because it is holding too much heat. Shutting off part of the house can be a detriment as well.
“Somebody older, their kids are gone and they only use part of the house, that can cause that part of the house to get so cold, especially in crawl spaces and stuff, you’re not putting heat in those areas where it gets colder and it will cause something to freeze up,” said Washam.
Winter weather requires residents to be vigilant about their automobiles as well.
John Waller, owner of American Mall Auto Care, of Lima, stresses maintenance.
“Normal routine maintenance would have been the best thing. Actually everybody should have had their batteries checked a month ago. But other than that there isn’t much you can do. Make sure the battery is good and keep air in the tires. That’s literally all you can really do,” said Waller.
Car batteries need maximum power to start during the cold weather. Batteries that are weak will not have enough power to start a cold car. Batteries can be tested by a mechanic. According to Waller, this tests takes approximately 30 seconds.
“The cold doesn’t make the battery go bad. What it does is make a weak battery show up. It was bad a month ago; you just didn’t pay attention to it. Now it won’t start. Batteries actually go bad in the summer time, but it shows up when it’s cold because you need all the power just to start the car,” said Waller. “I’ve put in roughly 25 batteries this week because everybody put it off until their car wouldn’t start.”
Dressing for the cold
While most people realize winter is upon us, there are still those that need to be reminded of how to dress.
Mercy Health-St. Rita’s suggests dressing in several layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing rather than one layer of heavy clothing. Make sure the outer layer is windproof. Wear clothing like sweaters, boots, hats, gloves and scarves. Wool clothing keeps a person warmer than cotton when it’s damp or wet.
Limit outdoor time when it is cold.
Spring will arrive March 20 this year. Just 72 days until then.
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511.