PARKERSBURG - The National Weather Service in Charleston is calling for sunny but very cold conditions today in the Parkersburg area, with a high temperature near 8 degrees and wind chill values as low as - 11.
Both of those numbers are expected to drop tonight, to a low around - 7 and wind chill values as low as - 17 for the evening hours today.
The weather service issued a wind chill advisory Monday afternoon that was scheduled to remain in place until 1 p.m. today. The wind chill advisory means that very cold air and strong winds could combine to generate low wind chills, possibly resulting in frost bite and hypothermia if precautions are not taken by those who venture outdoors, such as wearing hats and gloves.
The Ohio River in Parkersburg is frozen, as seen from the Fort Boreman Park overlook late Monday afternoon. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
The weather service said outdoor pets and livestock can be susceptible to the low wind chills as well, so owners should ensure they have adequate shelter to get out of the wind. Pets should be brought indoors if possible.
With the freezing temperatures, local rivers and streams have seen frozen conditions.
Despite temptations, no one should attempt to walk on any frozen river, said Parkersburg Fire Department Capt. Tim Flinn.
"It may look frozen, but it is not thick enough to hold weight right now," Flinn said.
Residents are asked not to walk on, stand on, drive vehicles onto, ice skate on, or play on any frozen body of water, including the Ohio River, Flinn said.
The partially frozen conditions of area rivers would make water rescues nearly impossible, Flinn said.
Local utility companies American Electric Power (Ohio AEP) and First Energy (Mon Power) have issued requests for citizens to take it easy on the power grid during the coming cold snap.
With the record-breaking cold will come record-breaking electricity use across West Virginia and Ohio today, said a press release from American Electric Power Ohio.
PJM Interconnection, the electricity grid operator for more than 61 million people in 13 states, requested customers of its utilities conserve electricity today and throughout the rest of the week, the press release said.
As the frigid weather settles over the Mid-Ohio Valley, the cold temperatures will bring an increased demand for electricity, straining the capacity of the nation's power grid across these states, the press release said.
From 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. today and again from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. today, residents are asked to conserve electricity.
Turn off appliances and lights that you aren't using, and lower your thermostats as low as you comfortably can in your homes. The use of major appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers should be postponed until outside of these key electrical usage windows, the press release said.
Any room in your home that isn't being used should be sealed off in the meantime, and keep doors and windows in your home closed as much as possible for the duration.
Unless your fireplace is equipped to heat your home, avoid using it during this time, the press release said. Warm air escapes through the chimney, actually making your home colder, it said. Make sure your damper is closed to keep as much heat inside as possible, it said.
First Energy customers are asked to conserve heat and electricity by closing blinds and garage doors. Any large windows can have blankets hung over them to keep the heat in, the First Energy press release said.
Each member of the home should have extra blankets ready to keep warm in case of a power outage, the press release said. Three days of food and water should be kept on hand.
When using alternative sources of heat, keep in mind that flames mean carbon monoxide, the press release said. Heat sources such as ovens, stoves and candles should be avoided due to the carbon monoxide they release inside the home.
Electronic devices should be kept charged in case of a power outage.
The wind chill advisory resulted in area school systems canceling classes today. Among the local West Virginia school systems that announced closings were Calhoun, Doddridge, Gilmer, Jackson, Pleasants, Ritchie, Roane, Tyler, Wetzel, Wirt and Wood counties.
Belpre City Schools, Marietta City Schools, Federal Hocking, Warren Local Schools, Meigs Local, Morgan Local and Noble Local schools canceled classes for today.
Wednesday's forecast from the weather service calls for continued sunny conditions, with temperatures reaching the high teens, around 18 degrees, before dropping to a low around 6 Wednesday night. The temperature is forecast to rise just above the freezing mark on Thursday, with a high expected of 33 degrees.
The rising temperature trend is expected to continue into the weekend, with a 30 percent chance of rain and snow on Friday and temperatures reaching a high near 36 and possibly going into the 40s on Saturday with the chance of precipitation increasing to 50 percent.