Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview

Fayetteville Arkansas, University of Arkansas--Old Main Overview
Overview of Fayetteville, AR

Friday, January 08, 2010

Bitter Cold Strikes NW Arkansas

I’m writing this Friday at lunchtime. The outside temperature is 7 degrees F. The wind chill is approaching 15 degrees below zero. There are light snowflakes hitting the ground and it is all highly unusual for NW Arkansas.

Our region had snow Sunday followed by cold, which created hazardous driving conditions. Then it got colder. In fact, it’s been brutally cold since late Wednesday night and the forecast calls for more of the same. On Sunday, if all goes as expected, the daytime temperature should warm up to 34 degrees F. and then get a little warmer each day next week.

I realize NW Arkansas is not alone in the cold. Much of the northern and eastern parts of the country are at least as cold and some are even colder. Right now northern Minnesota where I grew up is slightly warmer than Fayetteville, Arkansas. (The kind of cold that northern Minnesota experiences every winter is a major reason why I no longer live there.)

It has been more than 20 years since NW Arkansas had a deep freeze like this one (and I hope it will be another 20 years before it happens again.)

Unusual cold is more dangerous in places where homes and buildings were not designed to handle it. Buildings in places like Minneapolis, Detroit, New York state, and northern New England have more insulation and larger furnaces for heat. Northern states also have more equipment to remove snow and sand roads. Residents in those climates normally have more warm clothes.

This time of year NW Arkansas would expect temps in the 30s and 40s. A cold night might be 20 degrees.

The result of the Arctic air is many faceted. It’s been too dangerous for school buses to navigate icy rural roads, thus schools are closed. In fact, many schools have not reopened since the holiday break. People are cold, pipes are freezing, and cars won’t start. Some older homes don’t even have central heating. It takes a lot of wood to try to heat a home that isn’t properly insulated.

There is good news, however. Several agencies in NW Arkansas have opened warming centers where people can go to avoid frostbite and worse. Many are offering hot food and some have cots for sleeping. At least one agency I heard of is allowing people to bring their pets – because many folks simply will not leave their pet behind to freeze.

So stay inside if at all possible – this too shall pass. I can't wait...

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