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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, January 02, 2018 4:52 pm

Cold shatters 73-year-old daily weather record

Matt Leblanc|The Journal Gazette

Recent record-breaking cold has made some things – like starting your car – difficult. Just ask Tyler Will.

Will, assistant manager at O'Reilly Auto Parts on Coldwater Road, said he's had a steady stream of customers looking to buy new car batteries.

"We actually did about a dozen yesterday," he said Tuesday afternoon. "Normally, it's about two a day."

A record was broken Tuesday in Fort Wayne, according to the National Weather Service, when temperatures dipped to an icy 13 degrees below zero. The previous record was in 1945, when a low temperature of minus 8 was recorded.

The frustrating, frigid weather has persisted since last week, and meteorologists say temperatures that have affected car batteries, public works projects and local homeless shelters will stick around for a bit. The weather service says single-digit lows are expected through Saturday, and highs will not exceed 14 degrees.

Oh, and there's snow in the forecast today, Thursday and Friday.

"A lot of people, they're really tired of the cold," said Kyle Brown, a meteorologist with the weather service office near Syracuse. "I think people are grumbling."

A high pressure system in the middle of the U.S. is causing cold air to stay in place, Brown said. But a reprieve is on the way: It will warm up to 32 degrees on Sunday, he said.

"We'll finally get this cold air mass out of here," said Brown.

Area government agencies, utilities and charities are dealing with the cold in various ways.

The city of Fort Wayne on Tuesday canceled a planned sewer repair project on Lake Avenue, between Crescent Avenue and Anthony Boulevard, because of the low temperatures.

Allen County officials said some projects are tough to fix in cold weather because of the potential danger to workers.

"You can't have guys exposed in this type of weather," said Jessica Chrisman, permits and subdivision manager for Allen County. "Most of these jobs require them being outside all day long."

Donovan Coley, CEO of The Rescue Mission, also is working to keep people inside and out of the cold. He said there are more people in need than there are beds at the shelter on West Superior Street.

Cots are available for people to sleep on, he said.

"We will use every square inch (of space)," Coley said.

Tracy Warner, a spokesman for Indiana Michigan Power, said energy usage goes up when temperatures get cold. He could not provide figures for recent usage, but he noted I&M's record winter usage came on Jan. 14, 2015, when the low temperature was minus 1.

Peak demand for I&M typically comes during the summer, Warner said.