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OPINION | EDITORIAL: This blast of winter demanding caution

by The Pine Bluff Commercial | February 14, 2021 at 10:11 a.m.

While for much of January the weather was conducive to a sweater-wearing round of golf, the fierceness that winter can bring is in the offing. Cold -- bitter cold -- wind, sleet and 5 to 6 inches of snow are likely possibilities between this morning and Monday night.

We repeat, here are a few cautions that are in order.

From the National Weather Service: Check on family and friends, with particular attention to those who may not have a sound heating system and those who are elderly and at more risk during such an episode; take care of pets, as they need special attention in such conditions; protect your plumbing, such as letting faucets drip and allowing warm air to get to pipes; and bring plants inside.

The number that is sticking out in this isn't so much the inches of snow but the low of 3 degrees. Such lows don't happen often here. In a year-end roundup of the weather in 2020, a forecaster with the weather service said the last time that happened was in 2018. Before that, it was 2011, and then 2001. And with as much as a 10 mph wind, that 3 degrees will feel like minus 12. What minus 12 feels like, we have no clue.

We also pass along the advice from the Arkansas Department of Transportation to stay home and stay off the roads. Again, if you slide off the road or have a flat tire and get stranded and it's 28 degrees, that's one thing. But how long can you survive at close to zero degrees? And why put tow truck drivers and rescue workers in harm's way if it's not necessary?

As an operator of a heating and air conditioning company put it, most of what they do is work on cooling systems, because our winters are mild and this will be over before we know it.

All true. Our winters, at best (if you're a child wanting to sled) and at worst (if you would just as soon skip the slick stuff altogether), are small slices of what people in Chicago get weekly if not daily this time of year. But that slice is here and bearing down in a serious way. We'll be back to sweater weather soon enough. For now, take care of yourself and keep an eye on others. This is serious business.

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