Updated: January 31, 2011 at 12:00 am
While the Midwest shivered, the Northeast endured blizzard after blizzard and the Southeast iced over, Colorado basked in an unusually mild early winter.
On Monday, the bill came due.
Frigid arctic air invaded the Pikes Peak region Monday just days after the temperatures were in the low 60s. If sub-zero temperatures expected to stick around until Wednesday weren't bad enough, there was also the wind.
Gusts of up to 20 mph could make Monday's predicted low of minus 8 feel like 30 below.
“It’s going to be cold. C-O-L-D,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Hodanish.
If it's any consolation, it won't be as cold as it could be. The record low for Feb. 1 in Colorado Springs is minus 27, set in 1951. That record should be safe, but Tuesday's low could flirt with or even surpass the record low of minus 16 for Feb. 2 set in 1985. The low Tuesday is expected to be minus 11 to minus 18.
For most parts of the region, roads were relatively clear for the evening commute Monday with only a dusting of snow. Temperatures, though, were dropping fast. At 4 p.m. the temperature in Colorado Springs was 17 degrees. By 4:30, it was down to 12.
As night fell and the temperature plunged, the Salvation Army’s shelter at 709 S. Sierra Madre St. filled up with homeless people used to toughing out the cold. The shelter opens its doors to anyone who wants to get indoors whenever the temperature is below freezing.
Darryl Wilson, 45, rode his bicycle from Janitell Road and South Circle Drive to the shelter to get indoors for the night, saying it was too cold to try to stay warm his usual way: heating rocks in the coals of his campfire and then putting them in his sleeping bag.
Snow began to fall around 10:30 a.m. Monday in most parts of Colorado Springs and the weather service said 3 to 7 inches was possible through Tuesday.
Icy roads prompted the Colorado Springs Police Department to go on accident alert about 10:15 a.m. The status, cancelled around 4 p.m. then reinstated at 8:30, means residents can wait up to 72 hours to report a crash, as long as no one has been injured, drugs or alcohol were not involved and no public property has been damaged.
With the predicted cold and snow, some schools already announced delays and closures. Click here to see the latest closures and delays.
Flights continued to land and depart pretty much on schedule at the Colorado Springs Airport throughout Monday.
John McGinley, assistant director of airport operations and maintenance, said that flights are getting out of the gate on time, but some are delayed between five and 15 minutes as they go through de-icing.
For Tuesday’s flights, he suggests anyone going to the airport check with their airline before leaving - click here to see arrivals and departures.
On the roads, city plows will keep primary routes clear first, including multi-lane roads and access to hospitals. They will move to secondary routes if those are clear, according to city officials.
Residential roads will only be cleared if there is more than 6 inches of snow on the road.
Gazette writer Maria St.Louis-Sanchez contributed to this report.
Avoiding hypothermia and frost bite
-Layer up: keeping your core warm is key.
-Cover up: wear gloves, socks and warm boots. Avoid loss of heat by keeping a hat on.
- Avoid taking infants and young children outside in the cold
-Know when to seek shelter: shivering is the first sign of a dangerous drop in core temperature. Also, if your face, hands or feet are difficult to move, get inside as quickly as possible.
-Stay hydrated: drink coffee, hot cocoa or just water, but keep the fluids flowing.
Keeping pets safe and healthy
-Potty only: small dogs should not be outside for more than 5 to 10 minutes in these
extremely low temperatures. Putting a sweater or jacket on them is ideal.
-Shelter from the storm: larger dogs with cold weather coats still need an insulated place to get out of the wind and cold, as they are still susceptible to hypothermia. They also need access to unfrozen water and need extra food on cold days.
Minimizing damage to your vehicle
-Got a garage?: use it, if possible
-Warm it up: give your car at least five minutes between starting and driving
-Pop your blades: when you park, lift the windshield wipers so you don't return to blade frozen to the windshield
Preventing frozen pipes
-Keep it up: set thermostat no lower than 60 degrees
-Drip, drop: keep a faucet cracked open
-Wrap it up: use wraps or extra insulation on pipes
-Don't get hosed: disconnect outside hoses from exterior faucets