Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Winter, Winter Everywhere

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Winter, Winter Everywhere

Article excerpt

Wearing an immense winter jacket, three hoodies, a long-sleeve shirt, a thermal shirt, jeans, sweatpants, gloves, a hat, two pairs of socks and formidable black boots, Louis Camell was prepared for Friday's bitter cold.

Mr. Camell, who is homeless, was hiding from the 11-degree weather in the WellSprings Center on Friday afternoon, enjoying a cup of coffee. He planned to stick around until dinner was served, then head to a public library until 8 p.m., when another shelter opens its doors for the night.

With Friday's high at 14 degrees and a string of similarly shivery days in the forecast, Pittsburgh residents would do well to prepare like Mr. Camell. More than a week of below-average temperatures looms ahead, including a high of 9 degrees Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. On Tuesday, the high will be a cruel 4 degrees.

If temperatures for the rest of the month follow the current forecast, this month will have an average high of 20.8 degrees, making it the coldest January since 1981, said Brad Rehak, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pittsburgh. It would be the seventh-coldest January in Pittsburgh history, remaining far behind record-holder 1977, when the average high was a bone-chilling 11.4 degrees.

The unrelenting cold brings a risk of hypothermia, frostbite, dehydration and wind burn. The threat is especially high for children, the elderly, and those with diseases that affect blood vessels, such as diabetes, according to experts at Duquesne University.

Mr. Rehak blames the cold on the polar vortex, a flow of frigid air from the north. This year, a weakness in the cross-country jet stream has allowed the vortex to penetrate into the Midwest and Northeast.

Storm systems known as "Alberta clippers" have also contributed to the recent cold, Mr. Rehak said, riding the jet stream with cold air from the north. Another clipper is expected to hit on Monday, dragging temperatures back down into the single digits after a respite in the 20s on Saturday and Sunday. …

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