The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 7, 2014

Deep freeze continues today — SLIDESHOW included

BECKLEY — Kids throughout southern West Virginia can snuggle in bed this morning and enjoy another snow day, but it’s too dangerous to build a snowman in the arctic-like outdoors, National Weather Service meteorologists said Monday.

School is closed for Fayette, Nicholas, Greenbrier, Monroe, Raleigh and Summers counties today, along with St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Beckley, thanks to a blast of cold that was expected to leave Beckley with a high of 8 degrees today and a wind chill factor of up to 30 below zero.

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Raleigh Local School Improvement Council and administrative offices are closed today, and a two-hour delay has been called for Fayette schools Wednesday due to the extreme cold front moving through the region.

NWS meteorologist Phillip Manuel of the Blacksburg office said folks in Greenbrier, Summers and Monroe counties would wake up to temperatures of 5 to 15 degrees below zero, which feels like 25 to 35 degrees below zero. “A ski slope might not be a good place to be this morning,” he said.

“If you’re out in the exposed wind, that’s pretty wicked,” he said. “That is a dangerous cold, and it wouldn’t take you long to freeze to death in that sort of cold, if you weren’t prepared for it.”

The higher you get, Manuel explained, the colder the air feels, due to the wind.

“I wouldn’t recommend going up to Snowshoe this morning,” he remarked.

Temperatures tonight will be around 3 degrees in Beckley and remain in single digits Wednesday morning.

The good news, according to Manuel and NWS meteorologist Joe Merchant in Charleston, is that things can only get warmer.

On Wednesday, temperatures could be back up to 32 in Beckley while Lewisburg residents could even see the mercury hit 40.

By Thursday, the cold front should be out of the region, with more seasonable temperatures returning.

Outside of a few flurries, no precipitation is forecast today or Wednesday, meteorologists added.

Merchant said, despite some flurries that hit the region, playing outdoors isn’t advisable.

“You really don’t want to be outside for more than a few minutes in this type of weather,” he said.

Besides, he added, the snow is too dry to build snowpeople.

“I don’t think the snow would be very good for that,” he said. “A snowman would be tough.”

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The weather impacted the travel plans of would-be fliers around the region Monday.

At Charleston’s Yeager Airport, all flights to Chicago and Washington-Dulles were canceled Monday, along with one flight to Atlanta.

Flights to Atlanta and Washington-National were delayed due to weather.

More information is available on Facebook, where flight updates are posted on the “Yeager Airport” page.

At Raleigh County Memorial Airport, all morning flights were canceled. The Raleigh airport has air service to Washington-Dulles.

Greenbrier Valley Airport in Lewisburg reported that both of its Silver Airways flights — to Atlanta and Washington-Dulles — were canceled Monday due to weather.

Spokesman Jerry O’Sullivan said while he was optimistic that flights would be on schedule today, he was making no guarantees.

“They should hopefully be back (Tuesday) but definitely Wednesday,” he said.

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Also in such cold weather, experts remind everyone to check on elderly family members and to bring in pets.

Ghent Fire Department Chief Rick Morrison said another safety concern in cold weather is the use of auxiliary heat sources such as “space heaters.”

“You have to be extremely careful,” Morrison said. “Put them in the middle of the floor, away from anything that can combust.”

He said the heaters should only be used in a well-ventilated area.

“We really recommend not to use them at all,” he added. “But we know there’s times it becomes necessary.”

Extension cords that get too hot can cause fires, too.

Morrison said that the “skinnier” extension cords should not be used with space heaters, recommending instead the use of thicker cords that are designed to carry more amperage.

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Finally, for those in rural regions who raise chickens, keeping the birds warm is also important.

According to www.extraordinary-ordinary.net, chickens should have plenty of straw, wood shavings or sawdust, and owners should ensure their water doesn’t freeze.

Coop keepers may place a garage lamp or heating lamp (around 40 watts) in the coop. Frostbite is a possibility, so the site recommends checking birds and beaks regularly.

Finally, chickens should be fed more, and cracked corn is a good food for chickens in winter because it causes the birds’ body heat to increase, experts reported.

— E-mail: jfarrish@register-herald.com

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