More snow, dangerous wind chills on way for region

Published Jan 3, 2018 at 4:00pm

Frigid cold with a mix of snow has made for icy, hazardous conditions for central New York over the last several days and with “bombogenesis” on the way, conditions aren’t expected to break until Monday.

The National Weather Service in Binghamton has issued a wind chill watch for Thursday night through Saturday for the region. Dangerously cold wind chills are possible, while temperatures predicted to be as low as 30 below zero will cause frostbite in as little as 10 minutes to exposed skin, especially Friday night into Saturday, according to the advisory. Wind chills could range from 20 to 30 below zero Thursday night into Friday, and from 25 to 40 below zero Friday night into Saturday.

A blast of Arctic air will arrive Thursday night with northwest winds gusting as high as 25 to 35 mph as temperatures plummet, meteorologists said. Winds will continue Friday into Saturday, only slowly diminishing with time. Also, the very cold air could cause freezing of vulnerable exposed plumbing, if preventive measures are not taken.

Meanwhile, snow is in the forecast starting Thursday night as what meteorologists have deemed “bombogenesis” starts to wreak havoc across New England. The bombogenesis has been defined as an area of low pressure that drops significantly in 24 hours. That will result in what’s known as a “bomb cyclone.” This “cyclone,” which is expected to strike Thursday, will dump anywhere between 6 to 12 inches of snow in New England states, which will be driven by 40 to 60-mph wind gusts, according to reports.

NWS Binghamton Meteorologist Joanne LaBounty said the coastal storm had already brought snow to Tallahassee, Fla. this morning. LaBounty said the storm is expected to strengthen as it moves up the coast and once it passes through, “it will bring much colder air behind it and high winds.”

As for Thursday night through Saturday, it looks like “brutal wind chill and lake effect snow,” she said. “Temperatures will just be in the single digits on Friday, and Saturday you’re close to not getting above zero for temperatures.”

The cold spell “has been sort of an unusual length of time that this has gone on for — it’s been longer than usual,” said LaBounty as to whether the extended period of cold is considered normal for a central New York winter. “But it does improve early next week, and I don’t see a prolonged cold spell again anytime soon.”

A reprieve to the bitter cold is predicted to finally hit Monday, with high temperatures expected to reach the low 30s.

During this extended period of bitter cold temperatures, Rome Fire Chief Ronald M. Brement said homeowners should follow some safety tips to ensure they don’t experience frozen pipes. Investigators declared a house fire on Route 26 Monday afternoon caused by the use of a heat gun on frozen pipes. The chief said a blow torch should never be used when trying to thaw frozen pipes because they can cause sparks, and that heat gun users need to be especially cautious.

“The best recommendation is to leave your cabinet doors open if (bathroom) pipes are exposed to the exterior wall, and make sure (room) doors are open so there is air flow in the room,” Brement said. “You should also keep faucets at a trickle in remote areas where pipes are on exterior walls so there is constant water flow.”

In case the precautions don’t work and residents still have an issue, “the best thing is to place a space heater in the area of the frozen pipes, with nothing around it,” the chief said. “But you need to keep an eye on it because if a pipe nearby is frozen, when it thaws, it will leak, so it can result in a secondary problem if you don’t notice the leak.”

One of the best tools to use on a frozen pipe is a hair dryer, Brement recommended. As for heat guns, “they can generate higher temperatures, but if you’re not careful, or if you set it down or leave it unoccupied, it can cause a fire. So make sure to keep an eye on what you’re doing.”

And if frozen pipes are an on-going problem in the home, “Think about insulation in the summer to tackle the issue for next year,” he said. “Whether you use spray foam or install insulation, a little preventative work during the summer months can go a long way.”