Arctic blast set to howl across region through Saturday

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Turn up the heat and bring the pets indoors because a blast of Arctic chill is arriving in the Mohawk Valley today, leading to single digit and negative temperatures through the early weekend.

Temperatures are forecast to sink steadily throughout the day today, reaching negative temperatures by the evening, according to the National Weather Service. Temperatures will then never leave the single digits all day on Saturday, with “real feel” temperatures in the negative 20s and possibly 30s Friday and Saturday nights due to wind chill.

“We’re going to have an Arctic cold front move through,” explained Bryan Greenblat, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton.

Greenblat said a frigid air mass has come down from the Arctic and will pass over Central New York. It will combine with some “high winds” to dip temperatures well below zero.

Fortunately, Greenblat said the cold temperatures will not last long. He said the area will see temperatures rebound into the positive 20s and 30s by Sunday and Monday.

“Having short, cold stretches is not uncommon for mid to late January,” Greenblat said, adding “it’s actually been relatively mild so far this year.”

As the temperature warms back up by Sunday, Greenblat said there is a strong likelihood of more snowfall either Sunday or Monday.

“We’re just not sure of the strength” of the storm yet, he noted.

With such frigid temperatures on the way, several agencies in the City of Rome will be on the lookout for the well being of homeless people and pets. The Rome Police Department and the Rome Rescue Mission are well-prepared for helping people in the cold.

“If we do get a call, we offer them assistance. There are a couple of different avenues,” explained Rome Police spokesperson Lt. Sharon Rood. The Rome Rescue Mission houses some people in the cold, Rood said, though there is a limited amount of space. She said the police will also call on help from mental health services if needed.

“We prepare people as much as we can for cold weather,” said Matt Miller, director of the Rome Rescue Mission. Miller said his agency has handed out hundreds of winter coats, hats, gloves, socks and more over the past week in preparation for the cold.

First and foremost, Miller said, “We kind of encourage people to stay in place” in the cold. If they have somewhere warm to stay, Miller advises people against walking through the cold to reach the mission — though they are available in an emergency.

Miller said the mission also keeps track of known homeless people in the city and helps them however they can in the cold.

“We know where they all are,” Miller stated. “We are very aggressive with talking to people who are out on the streets.”

Lt. Rood said cold temperatures also raise a concern for pets, and the police department usually receives some calls for pets out in the cold. Rood said officers will swing by to investigate, and it often takes little more than a knock on the door to get residents to bring in their pets. She said it’s rare to find an animal outdoors with no one at home.

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