2nd Day of Dangerous Cold Bites Vt. | NECN

2nd Day of Dangerous Cold Bites Vt.



    Temperatures below zero were made worse by brisk winds (Published Sunday, Jan. 26, 2014)

    (NECN: Jack Thurston, Shelburne, Vt.) - For a second day, sub-zero temperatures bit into Vermonters' faces and hands, with brisk winds making the cold air even more painful. The air temperature readings may have been at minus 8 degrees, but the wind chill made it feel like 20 or 30 below in many places.

    "To stay out of the wind is the key," said Chip Stulen, as he shoveled snow from the deck of the 1906 steamship Ticonderoga on the grounds of Vermont's famous Shelburne Museum.

    Stulen and a colleague, Peter Tomasi, had to brave both the biting cold and snow-covered ice to protect the National Historic Landmark from the elements. "You really have to watch your footing," Stulen said.

    He had reason to worry. Treacherous walkways and steps are the norm in much of central and northern Vermont, because what last month's ice storm brought hasn't had a chance to melt in the frigid temps.

    Dr. Stephen Leffler, the chief medical officer of Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, said one day recently, there were nine patients at one time in Fletcher Allen's emergency department with broken wrists or arms. "This particular winter, so far, we've had many, many people with falls," Leffler said. "I'd say, way above average."

    That has left Vermonters busily spreading salt and sand.

    Leffler said bitter cold and blustery winds that make things worse bring two prime concerns. Hypothermia happens when your core temperature drops to a dangerous level. Shivering is top sign you need to get inside and warm up. Frostbite on exposed skin may start looking white or waxy and hard, and get more troubling from there.

    "Within 10 minutes, you can start getting frostbite," Leffler said. “If you start to actually freeze the interior tissue, you can lose fingers, lose toes, lose earlobes, you can even lose a limb."

    New England Cable News reporter Jack Thurston was one of many people in the Burlington area who needed to call for roadside assistance when his car wouldn't start in Friday's deep freeze. "I haven't had any down time, that's for sure," said a service technician named Shane from Handy's Service Center in Burlington, who responded to help the NECN reporter. "It's basically one call, drive to the next; next call, drive to the next."

    The Handy’s employee said frozen batteries were the bulk of his calls Friday, but suspected Thurston's problem may have been due to diesel fuel that gummed up when the vehicle remained parked overnight in such extreme cold.

    Many in Vermont, especially skiers and boarders who may want to hit the slopes this weekend, will likely be glad to know forecasts show more comfortable temperatures for northern New England for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.

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