Temps in St. Louis hit coldest levels since 1980s; residents told to stay inside

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by Brendan Marks / KMOV.com Staff | @BrendanMarks

KMOV.com

Posted on January 6, 2014 at 5:35 AM

Updated Monday, Jan 6 at 11:01 PM

(KMOV.com) – Temperatures on Monday were in the negatives, the beginning of a cold snap in the St. Louis area that brought the coldest temperatures in past 15 years.

Wind gusts of 20 mph and stronger only made matters worse. By 9 a.m. the temperature in St. Louis had plummeted to minus-8 degrees, the city’s coldest reading since February 1996, National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Truett said. Blustery winds made it feel 30 degrees below zero in Hannibal, Troy and Wentzville.

Those numbers aren’t going to rise too much, with Monday’s high expected to be around minus-2 degrees. It will feel as low as minus-35 degrees at times, according to News 4 Meteorologist Matt Chambers.

The St. Louis National Weather Service says the last time the St. Louis area had a high below 0 was on Dec. 22, 1989, when it was minus-1.

Related: St. Louis-area roads a major concern due to extreme low temps

“It has been 24 years since such a cold air outbreak. This will be a treacherous stretch of cold,” said News 4 Chief Meteorologist Steve Templeton.

According to statistics, it takes about 30 minutes to get frostbite in -20 degree windchills. In -35 degree wind chills, it only takes 10 minutes. Hypothermia occurs when body temperatures drop below 95 degrees. 

Butch Dye, a NWS meteorologist, urged anyone who had to go outside to cover all exposed areas.

 

“We are talking 10 to 15 minutes before frostbite exposure,” he said. “If you get stuck outside in a broken down car and you’re not properly dressed, it could be a disaster.”

Temperatures Monday night will be around -7 degrees and wind chills will still hang around the -20s to -30s.

One death in Missouri was blamed on the weather. A car apparently slid on an icy area of Interstate 44 in St. Louis, then struck a tractor-trailer. The victim’s name has not been released.

More than 250 warming centers were open around Missouri, said Ryan Hobart of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

St. Louis city leaders warned that any pets found outside would be confiscated and the owners could face animal abuse charges.

The utility Ameren Missouri was scrambling to restore power to about 1,400 customers, mostly south of St. Louis.

Travel by air was a challenge. Lambert Airport in St. Louis reported around 90 canceled flights, many of them bound for or arriving from the East Coast, which was also socked by winter weather in recent days. Kansas City International had 26 cancellations by midmorning.

Related: Click here to track Lambert Airport flight statuses

Temperatures Tuesday morning will still be dangerously cold, though the high is expected to be in the upper teens.

The bitter cold came a day after heavy snow blanketed much of Missouri. The St. Louis region got the worst of it -- 10.8 inches in the city and up to 15 inches in the suburbs. Road conditions throughout the state had improved since Sunday but still treacherous, with several highways and interstates covered. Clearing roads was a challenge because it was so cold that salt was less effective, and the wind was whipping the fine, powdery snow back onto the cleared pavement.

Wednesday will bring a chance for another round of snow, which is expected to arrive some time in the evening. That chance for snow will stick around Thursday, though precipitation may be rain because temperatures are projected to be above the freezing mark.

A break in the weather should arrive after that. Ehrhardt said by the weekend, Missouri should get sunny skies with high and low temperatures in the 40s.

Click here for a full, detailed forecast

Here are a number of links to help you track the upcoming weather:

For up-to-date information on power outages visit the Ameren Missouri or Ameren Illinois outage maps.

Click here for the KMOV.com Storm Mode page with the latest weather condition updates.

Click here to upload your storm photos and video or e-mail photos to website@kmov.com

Log on to our Facebook page and tell us what the weather is doing where you are.

During weather events, the News 4 Meteorologists are constantly updating our KMOVWeather Twitter feed. The very latest watches and warnings are automatically posted to this feed.  You can view the feed below.

You can also stay aware of any weather threat with radar and forecast updates by downloading the KMOV mobile app!  

FEMA has released a number or tips on how to handle the extreme cold. Here’s what they say to do:

*Winterize your home to extend the life of your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows, and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.

*Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.

Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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