December 8, 2021

Wind chills may plummet to minus 40

Dangerous deep freeze

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Gerald Neuman of Neumandale Family Farm in Little York wears two stocking hats to retain heat on Wednesday while transporting feed in Homer on a farm tractor without a cab. Tonight could bring lows of minus 4 and wind-chill temperatures of minus 23, with the frigid cold expected to continue through Saturday.

Ten minutes. That’s how long it takes frostbite to damage the skin as temperatures drop below zero over the next few days, almost like the ice world of Hoth from “Star Wars,” and wind chill makes it cold enough to freeze a tauntaun.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton reports snow showers with a high near 16 degrees for today. However, wind chill values could make it as low as minus 4.

That’s warm. Starting tonight, the wind blows and the cold deepens:

Tonight — Expect lows of minus 4 and wind chills of minus 30.
Friday — Watch for a high near 0, with 30 mph winds making it feel like minus 26.
Friday night — Stay inside. Lows of minus 7, wind chills near minus 35.
Saturday — Like Friday, high near 0 with 30 mph winds.
Saturday night — Lows near minus 11, wind chills near minus 40.

A wind chill watch was issued for multiple counties, including Cortland, until 6 p.m. Saturday. The temperatures are dangerous. So dangerous that the National Weather Service reports the chance of frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

Stay warm

Dress warmly and in layers. Stay dry. The National Weather Service warns to watch for these signs of hypothermia:
• Confusion.
• Shivering.
• Difficulty speaking.
• Sleepiness.
• Stiff muscles.
Watch for these signs of frostbite, says The American Red Cross:
• Lack of feeling in affected area.
• Skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch or is discolored.

Need a ride?

In Homer — Kids in the Homer Central School District who normally walk can get a ride if a parent or guardian calls the bus garage at 607-749-1221 before 6 a.m. Friday.
In Cortland — Bus drivers will pick up kids who are walking. Parents can also call the transportation office at 607-758-4100, ext. 2230.
In McGraw — Buses will pick up and drop off walkers at Refrigerated Transport Electronics at 1 W. Center St. and Bill Bros. Market at 1 E. Main St. Students may wait inside.
In Marathon — Walkers can call the bus garage at 849-3325 prior to 7:30 a.m. to be picked up in the morning. If a ride is needed after school students should alert Kacie Penrose, the high school secretary, prior to 2 p.m. and arrangements will be made.
In DeRuyter — A bus shuttle will run through the village on any day the temperatures are 5 degrees or less to pick up students who walk to school.
In Moravia — Transportation Supervisor Nancy Hares said bus drivers will stop and offer a ride to any students in the village walking to school. If parents have any questions, they can call (315) 497-2670, ext. 3002.

School leaders are taking steps to keep the kids warm, even picking kids up at their door. Farmersare working to keep their herds warm.

Hypothermia and frostbite will be a concern. Dress warmly and in layers.

Superintendents at both Dryden and Cortland schools said they’ve told bus drivers to be more fl xible on their routes so kids can wait for the bus inside.

“We encourage people to use their best judgment when it comes to waiting for the bus … and the bus transportation staff to understand that’s a priority, keeping safe and warm,” said Dryden interim Superintendent William Locke. “If the buses are a little later, so be it.”

Parents of Cortland and Homer students can call to arrange a ride, even if the family doesn’t live within the busing zone.

“Bus drivers will stop and pick up kids who are walking when it’s that cold,” said Cortland Superintendent of Schools Michael Hoose. “We just want to keep kids safe.”

But school won’t close because of cold, at least not in Cortland, Hoose said. “Many times for our students, the warmest place they have to go is school.”

Sports events might change, he said, but that hasn’t been decided. “If it’s really cold sometimes the fuel gels in the buses and they won’t run.”

The Homer School District will extend transportation Friday to students who normally walk to keep them out of the harsh weather, according to a post on the district’s website. At the end of the day Friday, kindergarten through fifth-grade walkers who were transported to school will be brought home by district transportation. Junior high school walkers will be asked to sign up in the main offic and senior high school walkers will be asked to sign up in the attendance office for afternoon transportation.

Homer Superintendent of Schools Nancy Ruscio said the district will monitor the situation and may delay or close school.

Ruscio said the school district’s buildings will be open as early as possible and any updates will be sent out through the school’s messenger system.

Farmers don’t have that luxury. During the frigid weather Wednesday morning, Joanne Jones and Gerald Neuman gathered feed for cows as they vaccinated the animals.

Jones, an owner of Lone Birch Stables on Route 11 in Homer, said that when temperatures get cold out you just hope for the best. “We try to get ahead of the game,” she said, making sure the animals have food, water and shelter.

How to keep pipes from freezing

• Keep the garage door closed.
• Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to let warm air circulate.
• Let cold water drip from faucets.
• Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both day and night.
• If you plan to be away, keep the heat set to at least 55 degrees.

To thaw a frozen pipe

• Turn on the faucet. Circulating water helps melt ice.
• Apply heat to the pipe. Use a heating pad, electric hair dryer, portable space heater or towels soaked in hot water.
• Call a licensed plumber if you are unable to locate the frozen area, cannot get to it or cannot thaw the pipe.
— SOURCE: Consumer Reports

Neuman, owner of Neumandale Family Farm also along Route 11 in Little York, said keeping equipment running smoothly is important. In cold weather diesel fuel can gel. To keep gelling from happening the farm keeps diesel equipment plugged into an electric circuit for heat.

Neuman also plans to keeping his cows inside. On Wednesday, he was preparing for the weather change. “We’re getting feed all ready,” he said.

Neuman has one philosophy. If he’s going to sleep in a warm bed, so are his animals, he said. The worst should pass by the end of the weekend. By Monday, the National weather Service reports temperatures climbing back up close to 30 degrees — a heat wave.