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Published: Saturday, 1/19/2008

'Warm' January about to hit a deep freeze

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Dorothy Chinnis-Miller of Perrysburg is bundled up for errands in downtown Toledo. Dorothy Chinnis-Miller of Perrysburg is bundled up for errands in downtown Toledo.
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Less than two weeks after area residents basked in record warmth, winter will seek its revenge this weekend with an arctic chill that forecasters expect to stick around, to varying degrees, for at least a week.

No record lows are forecast, but it will be the coldest air of the season so far, and will arrive during a January that until Thursday had been 10 degrees warmer than normal, National Weather Service records show.

"It's going to be cold for a while, but it's January and that does happen," Dan Leins, a meteorologist at the weather service's Cleveland office, said.

On average, Jan. 16 through Jan. 23 is the coldest time of the year in Toledo.

Record lows for the dates are all in the minus-teens, except for Monday's which is 20 degrees below 0.

It won't be that cold in the next few days, but it will be plenty cold enough to bundle up, bring pets indoors if you can, make sure small children and seniors have adequate heat, and beware of freezing pipes - among other things.

Winter's return began yesterday morning, with a shot of fresh Canadian air behind a windy cold front. The high temperature of 28 at Toledo Express Airport was close to the daily normal high (31), and bright sunshine helped make it feel just a bit warmer.

But overnight, a reinforcing blast of arctic air was expected to sweep into southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio behind a weak storm front - a blast that might make the average daily low for Jan. 20 - 16 degrees - tough to reach as a high temperature tomorrow.

The weather service's North Webster, Ind., office posted windchill advisories for numerous Ohio and Indiana counties west and southwest of Toledo, meaning that windchills in those areas are expected to go to 15 below 0 or lower.

Wind chill is a measure of how wind-driven cold air feels against human skin.

While the overnight front's passage through Toledo was expected to result in a brief, insignificant snowfall in the city, lake-effect snow warnings were issued for areas downwind of Lakes Erie and Michigan, especially east of Cleveland and in southwest Michigan.

Areas right along the lakes' shorelines were warned of freezing spray, too, because recent warm weather has kept lake ice from forming.

Today's high in Toledo is expected to be in the upper teens, with scattered snow flurries. Tonight, "that's when it really gets cold," Mr. Leins said. The low will be around zero in Toledo, and subzero readings are likely in rural areas.

After single-digit lows tomorrow, "it will try to warm up a bit" with a high in the low 20s on Monday, but then more colder air is expected, Mr. Leins said.

AccuWeather.com, meanwhile, predicted a high in the upper 20s for Tuesday before a fresh cold shot, but it otherwise agreed with the National Weather Service that the freezing mark won't be cracked in Toledo before the end of next week.

The cool-down likely will be a welcome development for ice fishermen, who so far this month have been kept ashore. While Lake Erie's waters were 34 degrees off Toledo yesterday, sustained cold means "there's a good chance for ice to develop on the lake," Mr. Leins said.

Ice strong enough for fishing will take a few days to form though and, in the meantime, anyone going outside will want to bundle up.

The Michigan Department of Community Health urged people to dress warmly in layers with wind-resistant clothing, advising that wool, silk, or polypropylene inner layers are better at retaining heat than cotton.

Those responsible for infants and seniors should be especially wary of indoor cold because infants lose body heat faster than adults and seniors' slower metabolisms means they make and retain less body heat, the agency said.

The Toledo Area Humane Society urged pet owners to bring dogs and cats inside if possible.

If not, a warm doghouse or a sheltered part of a garage with dry straw or other bedding should be provided, and "fresh water is a must because they can't drink it if it's in a frozen bowl," said Sheri Miller, the society's spokesman.

Watch out for salt or grit in pets' paws, and people refilling their vehicles' anti-freeze should be diligent about cleaning up because the liquid tastes sweet to animals but is poisonous, Ms. Miller said.

Contact David Patch at: dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.


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