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The Journal Gazette

  • Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette Steam rises from cars and buildings into the frigid air on West Washington Boulevard on Tuesday morning. A record low of minus 13 was set for the date, and several more cold days are coming.

  • Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette People gather in the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission to escape the cold Tuesday afternoon.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 1:00 am

Challenges come with record cold

Projects on hold, shelter full

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Cold-weather tips

• Wear layers of clothing, gloves and a hat

• Run water and leave cabinet doors open to help keep pipes from freezing

• Use generators only outside

• Use space heaters on level, hard surfaces

• Keep anything flammable at least 3 feet away from a space heater

• Install weather stripping and, for future cold snaps, insulation and storm windows

Source: American Red Cross, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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,” Brown said.

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 fall. 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.

mleblanc@jg.net