The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Montour County

January 7, 2014

Expect coldest wind chills in 20 years

DANVILLE — A blast of frigid arctic air — what meteorologists call a polar vortex — has settled over the Valley, bringing with it dangerously low temperatures, high winds and wind chill factors not seen in this area in 20 years.

When you wake up this morning, it will be -2 degrees, but feel like -19, thanks to 15-to 25-mph wind gusts, meteorologist Jon Dlugoenski, of AccuWeather, State College, said Monday night.

A polar vortex is almost like an arctic cyclone, Dlugoenski said. “They are not uncommon at the North Pole. But air masses of this size drifting this far south are highly unusual weather events.”

The drop in temperature over the last 24 hours has been stunning.

From a rather mild 37 degrees at noon Monday, the temperature began dipping, at first by a few degrees an hour until by 9 p.m., it was 2 degrees, but with a brutal, whipping wind, it felt like -17.

“Stay indoors if you can,” Dlugoenski said. Exposure to this kind of deep freeze for too long could lead to frostbite.

As cold as it is today — factoring in the wind chill — temperatures still don’t approach the all-time lows in the Valley:

--Lewisburg, Middleburg, Selinsgrove and Sunbury, -26 in 1994

--Mifflinburg, -22 in 1994

--Watsontown, -20 in 1994

--Danville, Milton and Turbotville, -17 in 1994

By 8:45 p.m. Monday, several Valley school districts already had decided to close schools today.

Although he was contemplating a two-hour delay for this morning, Lewisburg Superintendent Mark DiRocco finally decided to close down the district.

“I can’t see how there would be any significant difference in temperatures if we simply delayed opening by two hours,” he said Monday night. “Eight o’clock versus 10? It’s going to be very cold either time.”

Other districts scheduled to close today are Danville, Mifflinburg, Milton and Warrior Run. As of 9 p.m. Monday, the Shamokin and Mount Carmel districts were scheduled to delay openings by two hours.

David Campbell, Line Mountain School District superintendent, had not made a decision by 9 p.m.

Snyder County and Northumberland County Head Starts announced they would close today.

Tonight into Wednesday will continue to see bone-chilling air staying stationary over the Valley.

Expect temperatures not to exceed 8 degrees today and fall to zero by midnight, with continuing wind gusts in the 10- to 15-mph range. But temperatures will begin to moderate at midday Wednesday, Dlugoenski said. “And by the end of the week, it might even feel mild.”

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