Prepare yourself Kansas City. It’s about to get cold — the coldest it’s been in a long while.
After an arctic cold front moves through the area overnight Tuesday, frigid temperatures and dangerous wind chills will settle in.
“We are going to have the coldest air mass this season descend over our area,” said Chris Gitro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pleasant Hill, Mo.
“We are going to have very strong high pressure — possibly near record-breaking high pressure — that’s going just be pushing colder air down south across our area from Canada.”
That means that high temperatures on Wednesday will struggle to get out of the single digits — the high in Kansas City, in fact, is expected to be 5 degrees.
That’s a big drop from Tuesday high of near 20 degrees and about 30 degrees below normal.
“The wind chills are going to be the big thing,” Gitro said. “We are going to have wind chills well down below zero values.”
A wind chill advisory has been issued for the Kansas City region, including Leavenworth, Wyandotte and Johnson Counties in Kansas, and Clay, Platte, Jackson and Cass counties in Missouri.
The advisory is in effect from 3 a.m. Wednesday until 9 a.m. Thursday.
Wind chills are expected to be 15 to 25 degrees below zero with the coldest wind chills on Wednesday and Thursday mornings.
Winds are expected to be 10 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph.
“For anybody who’s going to be outside, obviously you’ll going to need to bundle up,” Gitro said. “It’s not going to take long for frostbite to set in.”
Under our expected conditions for the next few days, frostbite can occur in 30 minutes or less if skin is left exposed, he said.
“We all should be taking it very seriously,” said Lougene Marsh, director of Johnson County Department of Health and Environment. “As the temperatures drop and wind speeds increase, our bodies can lose more rapidly than they usually do.”
Cold weather puts an extra strain on your heart, so it’s a good idea to avoid any non-routine physical exertion that you’re not used to.
“With these extreme temperatures, it’s very easy for situations like dehydration, frostbite or hypothermia to occur,” Marsh said. “These extreme temperatures underscore the need for keeping all of your body surfaces covered.”
She suggested people wear insulated gloves and socks and cover their face with a scarf or facemask. Hats or some type of head covering are also needed.
Johnson County Library’s branches will be available as warming centers during normal business hours.
Meanwhile, Kansas City residents needing refuge from the cold are encouraged to go to one of the city’s 10 community centers during regular business hours.
For a complete list of warming centers in the Kansas City area, call the United Way at 211 or visit the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services online warming center map.
For bus riders, Johnson County Transit will provide a warming bus at the Mission Transit Center. Meanwhile, the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority will have a warming bus from 6 a.m. until noon at 10th and Main streets.
When it comes to making the decision about whether to cancel or delay the start of school, school administrators typically look at three factors: wind chill, temperatures and road conditions.
But just because it’s cold doesn’t mean a school district will cancel or delay classes.
“We don’t pick a temperature and say if it’s this degree we are canceling school,” said Dan Clemens, assistant superintendent of administrative services for North Kansas City Schools.
“We look at the combination of all three. Obviously if the road conditions are going to be cold and we know our buses won’t run time, it helps us make that decision really quickly.”
But if road conditions are good, the buses can run on time and the district can let families know not to let children go out to their bus stops any earlier than five minutes before their scheduled pickup, the district can hold classes despite the frigid temperatures, he said.
No decision has been made yet whether classes will be canceled or delayed on Wednesday, Clemens said.
Kansas City superintendent Steve Green that the school district looks at a number of factors, including temperatures, wind chills, road conditions and precipitation.
“At the forefront of all of that, and the critical piece of all of that, is the safety and well being of our students,” Green said.
Because the district has a number of students who walk to school, administrators take that into consideration when deciding whether to hold classes.
“Given the frigid conditions, we certainly don’t want to see our students out walking for extended periods of time on their way to school,” Green said.
No decision has been made yet for Wednesday’s classes, but the district remains on “high alert.”
Students are being encouraged to dress in layers and to wear hats, gloves or mittens and heavy socks.
As for the cold, we won’t see much relief in the near future.
“We don’t really see any significant warm-ups occurring in the next seven to 10 days,” Gitro said. “It looks like we are going to have the cold air that is going to pretty remain entrenched over the area for the foreseeable future.”
To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.