The big chill

The big chill

January 16th, 2009 by Jacqueline Koch in Local Regional News

Even when winter winds whip around him, electrician Jeff Vaughn doesn't cover his fingers.

"You work so much with your hands, it's hard to wear gloves," he said Thursday while standing outside Warehouse Row, where he was working.

While temperatures were cold Thursday, today's may be even worse. Chattanooga residents can expect a low of 9 degrees tonight, said meteorologist Shawn O'Neill with the National Weather Service in Morristown, Tenn.

"But much of the area will be colder than that," he said. "Five or 6 degrees will be rather common. Up on Signal or Lookout mountains, it'll be a lot closer to zero."

A wind chill advisory is in effect until 7 p.m. today in the Northwest Georgia area, said meteorologist Laura Griffith with the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Ga.

"What we're expecting is breezy, windy conditions in combination with the cooler temperatures and wind chill values between zero and negative-5 degrees," she said.

Area school closings

Bradley County

Cleveland City

Rhea County

Polk County

Bledsoe County

CELL PHONES

* Cold weather can damage cell phones. Here are some tips to avoid problems:

* Charge your phone or PDA frequently. Low temperatures can run down the phone's charge faster.

* Handle your handset with care. The display cover can become brittle when exposed to cold weather for long periods of time.

* Keep your phone in a warm place; avoid leaving it in an outside pocket or backpack or in the car overnight. Prolonged exposure to the cold may affect the phone's display screen.

* When outside in the cold weather, carry your phone in an inside jacket pocket, keeping it close to your body for warmth.

* Maintain a list of emergency phone numbers - police, fire and rescue agencies; power companies; insurance providers; family, friends and co-workers; etc. - and program them into your phone. Add highway department and school numbers to check for local road and school closings and "no tow" orders.

Source: Verizon

The frigid winter prompted the Salvation Army in Chattanooga to open its doors to everyone Thursday night. The shelter was not turning anyone away for space reasons, officials said.

"We are quite busy since the temperatures have dropped," said Salvation Army Major Jim Lawrence, area commander. "We are out of most toiletry items, extremely low on coffee, sugar and soup."

Bo Newberry and three other members of a Walker County Water and Sewerage Authority were in the cold Thursday, laying new sewer pipe in a shallow trench alongside Dry Valley Road.

Pointing to Dakota Jones, who wore insulated overalls and layers that included a green sweatshirt, Mr. Newberry said, "He just weighs 120 pounds, but he has 200 pounds of clothes on."

The weather will warm slightly during the weekend, reaching highs in the 40s in Northwest Georgia, Ms. Griffith said.

But Mr. O'Neill said Chattanooga residents shouldn't expect normal temperatures until Wednesday, when the high will reach the upper 40s.

When the weather gets cold, Chattanooga bicycle and motorcycle patrol officers take to their cars, said Assistant Police Chief Mike Williams.

Staff Photo by Tim Barber<br> Melody Martin walks south on Market Street bundled up in two hoods, a parka and a shirt wrapped around her face.

"There's no policy on it, but it's just a matter of when it becomes unreasonable for them or they're uncomfortable," he said, adding that it also was a matter of personal safety for the officers.

In Georgia, Rossville Public Works Department employees Josh Garrison and Jerry Holder dressed in layers Thursday as they worked with a backhoe and dump truck to pick up brush.

"We've been trying to stay inside the cabs as much as possible," Mr. Holder said. "We're dreading Friday morning. It's not going to get above freezing until Saturday."

In Fort Oglethorpe, the thermometer at a bank on Battlefield Parkway read 26 degrees - in the sun. Nearby, Jessica Moore stood, holding a signboard advertising an automobile dealer. She wore two pair of pants, a thermal shirt, a hooded jacket, a leather coat, a hat, gloves, two pair of socks and fleece-lined shoes.

"It's still cold," she said. "My face is freezing."

Ms. Moore said of her three part-time jobs, standing on the side of the road holding a sign for five hours a day was the hardest.

"This is my second day on the job, and there will be a third day," she said. "I'm like the post office, neither rain, sleet nor snow will keep me away. I'll be here Friday."

In addition to caring for emergency medical service patients with cold exposure or ensuring patients don't get exposed to frigid temperatures for long, ambulances and EMS vehicles are stocked with linen and heavy wool blankets, said Lt. Tony Sylvester, who heads special operations for Hamilton County Emergency Services.

EMS employees also must make sure they stay warm, often wearing several shirts and coats, he said.

"We really encourage our crews to layer their clothing," Lt. Sylvester said.

Staff Writer Mike O'Neal contributed to this story.