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County locked in bitter cold

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Mercury may not rise above zero today; wind chills could plummet to -20 º

By VINCE LUECKE
Editor

PERRY COUNTY – Temperatures not seen in more than a decade were forecast to have Perry County in an icy vice today. County emergency-management and medical-services personnel were meeting Friday to find ways to keep Perry Countians as safe as possible.

If weather forecasts issued Friday held true over the weekend, the county was to receive several inches of snow Sunday from a large storm system sweeping across the center of the county. Behind it, arctic air was expected to sweep south, sending temperatures below zero.

Today’s high was forecast to not climb above zero. Gusty northwest winds would make it feel even colder.

“Wind chills could be as low as minus 20 or worse,” said Steve Hauser, director of the county’s emergency management agency.

He said county officials began taking steps Friday to prepare for the storm and bitter cold.

Starting Sunday, the county started staffing three ambulances, with one stationed at the north rescue station at the county highway garage.

The goal, he said, was to shorten the response time to accidents and other calls in rural areas of the county.

“If it’s an issue of someone outside in a vehicle, we want to reduce the time it takes to get there,” he said.

First responders would join paramedics and emergency-medical technicians in staffing the three ambulances. Hauser said he was coordinating efforts with county commissioners and Pat Lambert, director  of the county’s emergency medical services.

If the storm dumps as much snow as forecasts were suggesting, the county could quickly be placed under a state of emergency Sunday and the public asked to remain off roadways. A similar winter-storm emergency was issued during a storm in December.

The county was under a winter storm watch Friday afternoon and the National Weather Service was predicting snow to begin before dawn Sunday with periods of heavy snow falling throughout the day. Winds could create drifts.  

A gradual warmup is expected later this week.