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Safety urged before dangerously cold temperatures arrive

A deep freeze with wind gusts as high as 25 mph will arrive Tuesday night and continue on and off through Friday.

A polar vortex, or a dip in the Jet Stream, which brings air down from Canada into the U.S., arrives after Williamsport gets at least 6 inches of snow accumulation by the time it trickles off Wednesday.

“The deadly cold spell isn’t going to last too long,” said Craig Evanego, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College.

Temperatures of minus 9 degrees Wednesday will plummet to minus 7 that night and gusts of wind, as high as 25 mph, could create outdoor conditions that are minus 20 below, Evanego said.

The record low for January was minus 20 in 1994, and this one could met or exceed that based on wind chill factor, he said.

The main concerns are with individuals who must be outside during the next 75 hours, who have any exposed skin, according to the meteorologist.

Frostbite can occur within minutes and hypothermia, when the body’s core temperature plummets, can happen in these conditions, he said.

Anyone heading outdoors should be prepared by wearing several layers of clothing.

Inside homes, the potential exists for some water and sanitary pipes to freeze solid, blocking the flow of tap water and sanitary lines, according to officials with the Williamsport Municipal Water and Sanitary Authority.

Should that happen to copper and metal pipes, never use any fire or blow torch to thaw, authority staff said.

The only safe options include the use of hot steam or a blow dryer.

For those traveling or walking, even short distances, a hat, and face cover to protect the nose and mouth are a must. Weather-proof shoes also will be helpful.

Vehicles should be equipped with an extra coat, a bottle of water, ice scrapers, gloves, a cellphone and battery charger.

Bus patrons using River Valley should seek inside shelter, such as the Trade and Transit Centre II at Midtown Landing.

City workers will be working but from vantages inside buildings.

“Streets and parks department employees during the day will be doing inside building work, and will not be permitted to go outside Wednesday and Thursday,” Mayor Gabriel J. Campana said.

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