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Frigid temps with more snow on way

Wind-chill advisory issued until noon; water pipes at risk

– Sound familiar? Heavy snow followed by record cold.

The National Weather Service issued a wind-chill advisory Thursday that runs through noon today, warning that the single-digit and below-zero temperatures combined with brisk winds will put wind chills between 15 below and 25 below.

The low overnight was expected to be 8 below, the National Weather Service reported, with today’s high a mere 9 degrees.

“Wind chills this low can result in frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes,” forecasters warned. “If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.”

Temperatures are expected to rise over the weekend, but there is also a 50 percent chance of – you guessed it – more snow.

In the meantime, there is the extreme cold to deal with, cold that can freeze water pipes if precautions aren’t taken. City Utilities officials said more than 500 customers had frozen pipes or water meters in their homes in January.

Running a small stream of water, about the diameter of a pencil, will keep the flow going through pipes and the meter and prevent freezing. Meters in an unheated garage should be protected with an insulated box, and the garage door should be kept closed to hold in as much warmth as possible. Pipes on an outside wall should also have a small trickle of water running through them.

City officials said anyone who suspects they have a frozen water meter should call 311, even after hours, because the system can connect them to the water maintenance dispatcher.

Even as temperatures fell Thursday, roads in and across the region were improving. In Fort Wayne, crews moved into residential areas to plow snow-laden streets, and Allen, DeKalb and Noble counties lifted their travel advisories. The other counties in northeast Indiana dropped their advisories from Orange to Yellow, the lowest level.

Fort Wayne plows started clearing residential streets Wednesday night but had to stop Thursday morning to deal with new snow and ice on the main roads. They were back in neighborhoods Thursday afternoon and planned to plow through the night.

After the plowing is done, officials said, crews will treat residential streets with a mixture of fine sand and beet juice to provide traction and melt ice.

More than 20 vehicles provided by contractors and City Utilities were assisting the street department by plowing alleys Thursday.

Mayor Tom Henry encouraged residents to check on neighbors and help to clear sidewalks.

“I urge motorists to slow down and use caution,” Henry said. “Even though we are putting in very long days to clear the streets, we will have slick spots for days to come because of the wind and colder temperatures.”

City officials also reminded residents they are responsible for clearing sidewalks in front of their home, and asked people to make sure snow isn’t piled so high at intersections that it hurts visibility and that fire hydrants are visible and not covered by snow.