No, we're not all going to freeze to death today; it's just going to feel like it.
Weather websites don't completely agree on the forecast, but they all agree today will be colder than most of Central Missouri residents are used to.
Even Gov. Mike Parson's office sent out a press release Monday afternoon that urges people to understand hazards that come with extreme cold.
"We take the safety of our citizens very seriously and stand ready to support our local jurisdictions as they work to protect their communities," Parson stated. "I also urge Missourians to check on neighbors who may need a little extra help during these dangerous conditions."
Patrick Walsh, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in St. Louis, said Tuesday night temps will come within a degree or two of breaking a record of minus 9 degrees.
"If it was me, you should stay home," he said, then laughed. "Of course, I can't stay home."
On Tuesday, Mid-Missourians saw a heightened windchill with wind coming from the west/northwest at about 17 miles per hour. Today, the wind will still make itself known at 11 mph. That means the high of about 8 degrees plus the wind can cause frostbite or worse rather quickly.
"People need to dress properly in layers," Walsh added. "Make sure you're dressed as warmly as possible as wind chills will be between negative 23 and (negative) 28."
Frostbite occurs when skin is exposed too long to extreme cold. That cold means blood flow is reduced, and then body tissue is frozen. At first, the skin will become very cold, then numb, hard and pale. You'll feel pins and needles or stinging sensations, then nothing. In severe cases, gangrene (the death of body tissue) can set in and amputation will be required.
Physical damage can also be long-lasting, and a decreased sense of heat and cold can be permanent. Insulate yourself. Take care to cover your ears, nose and as much of your face as possible, your hands and other extremities. Layers can keep sweat away from your skin that could freeze. A water/windproof outer layer is necessary if outdoors for long periods.
Remember, pets and livestock can also get frostbite. Brings pets in or at the very least, offer them shelter and a bed of warm straw out of the wind.
"Check on your pets," Walsh said. "Check on the elderly (friends and neighbors). Check on anyone susceptible."
If you have bird seed, your outdoor feathered friends would appreciate the help. And if you have livestock, make sure those animals also have forage and shelter from the wind.
"The top concern of every Missouri farmer and rancher in the winter time is the safety and well-being of their livestock," Director of Agriculture Chris Chinn said. "While our farmers and ranchers are braving the cold to care for their livestock and ensure their neighbors are OK, they should also remember to take care of themselves as temperatures drop."
Other safety measures
Many area schools, including Fulton Public Schools and North and South Callaway districts, have cancelled classes today.
The United States Postal Service has suspended service in parts of the Midwest, according to the Associated Press.
Warming centers in Missouri can be located at ogi.oa.mo.gov/DHSS/warmingCenter/index.html or dial 2-1-1 for United Way Referral. In Callaway County, warming centers listed include the county health department (4950 County Road 304, Fulton); the Callaway County Public Library (710 Court St., Fulton); the Callaway Senior Center (531 Commons Drive) and the county courthouse (10 E. Fifth St., Fulton).
Remember space heaters should never be plugged into extension cords, and should be monitored. They lead to 80 percent of home heating fire deaths, according to State Fire Marshal Tim Bean.
"Space heaters are potentially deadly if they are not monitored and used correctly," Bean added. "Ovens and stove tops should never be used to attempt to heat a home. Make sure you are not overloading extension cords and power strips, which are not designed for heavy electrical loads."