Winter’s Worst: Prepare for brutal cold

Weather News

All this week the 22News Storm Team has been getting you ready for winter’s worst weather.Today we focus on the brutal cold that comes with the season. 

No matter how mild a winter may be, there will always be a period of significant cold. 

Last winter we stayed below freezing for two weeks straight, from the day after Christmas until January 9th.

January is typically our coldest month of the year here in western Massachusetts where average high temperatures are barely above freezing.

The first sign of trouble brought on by the cold could be found in your driveway, when your car doesn’t start.

At Steve Lewis Subaru in Hadley they trace the problem of failing car batteries in the winter, down to battery degradation caused by heat in the summer. 

“Once you get down to 22 degrees and that battery has been degraded, now you’ve got ice cold engine oil, all of the components are frozen and the battery, but default, has A more difficult time starting anyway, so once it’s beyond a certain point you’re going to have to replace the battery and generally people associate this with winter, but most of the real damage is done in summertime.”

Before you run into problems, a mechanic can use a machine like this to check the health of your battery tested before the first cold stretch.

Having jumper cables or even a car starting kit can help on those very cold mornings.

As temperatures drop, so does your tire pressure. So topping off the air in your tires will help to add grip to the road. 

“As colder air starts to come to western Massachusetts more frequently, it’s not just things left outside that could get impacted by the sub-freezing temperatures, but you could start getting problems inside your home too.”

Excessive cold can freeze water in the pipes within your home, especially the pipes in basements, crawl spaces, attics or along exterior walls that aren’t properly insulated from outdoor cold. A frozen pipe doesn’t always mean a burst pipe.

“When a pipe first freezes, the water hasn’t expanded enough to burst the pipe, but if the situation were to progress and more water freezes, there’s more expansion and that’s when you’d see a pipe burst. You can also tend to see bursts happen where there are fittings and joints, so around an elbow the water doesn’t have as much room to expand as it would in a straight piece of pipe, so you could have a failure there.”

Burst pipes can cause thousands of dollars in water damage. 

Unless you’re knowledgeable enough about plumbing, Gary Woodruff at Hurley and David in Springfield recommends getting frozen pipes inspected before they thaw and burst. 

Leak detection systems that automatically turn off water to leaking pipes can save you money in the long run, as can insulation. Short term fixes include running faucets at a trickle to prevent a freeze in the first place. 

“As hardy New Englanders, we are used to rough wintry weather, but if not taken seriously enough, exposure to too much cold can lead to a trip to the emergency room.” Dr. Gerald Beltran works in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield. 

Dozens of times each year they get patients suffering from hypothermia which means your body’s temperature drops below 95 degrees.

“Feeling cold, kind of miserable and stiff. You start to shiver, but you have normal augmentation, you’re thinking normally. As you get colder, between 82 Fahrenheit and 90 F, then you start to become altered and you’re not thinking well and then as the temperature drops more you lose the ability to shiver.”

Shivering and goose bumps are the first signs of hypothermia, those symptoms are an attempt by your body to warm up.

Bundling up, even when it’s not excessively cold, and staying dry can help prevent hypothermia.

Winter’s Worst

The 22News Storm Team will help you prepare for winter’s worst weather:

  • 3 tips to prepare for snow
    22News Storm Team Meteorologist Kelly Reardon explores some of the greatest inconveniences with falling white flakes, and how to overcome them.

  • Dangerous and damaging ice
    22News Storm Team Meteorologist Adam Strzempko takes a look at ice, one of the worst kinds of weather to have to deal with during the winter.

  • Dangerous wind conditions
    22News Storm team Meteorologist Brian Lapis gets you ready for the worst of the winter wind, with some ways to stay safe and warm.

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