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Tuesday, 04 February 2014 03:36

This cold winter could mean fewer spring pests

   There may be an up side to the cold winter St. Louis area residents are enduring this year.  Entomologist Chris Hartley tells Fox 2 News the extreme cold now could mean fewer insect pests come spring.  
   Hartley works at the Missouri Botanical Garden's Sophia M. Sachs Butterfly House at Faust Park. He says some species of flies and ticks have moved north into Missouri because of the mild winters over the past several years. 
   "By creeping north like that, they're entering ranges where they normally wouldn't have been," Hartley said.  "And they are susceptible to maybe getting froze (sic) back some." 
   Hartley says the deep freeze won't affect the mosquito population, since those pests hibernate.  
   He also says it may not be quite cold enough to put a dent in the population of the Emerald Ash Borer, like it probably has in Minnesota.  But, Hartley says, we won't know until spring.
 
Published in Local News
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 03:23

Cabin fever sets in amid relentless cold, snow

   ST. LOUIS (AP) — T.J. Rutherford loves to golf, even in the winter. Just not this winter.
   With single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chills becoming the norm from the Midwest to the East Coast, often combined with snow or ice, the 59-year-old and his Illinois golfing buddies are no longer just bundling up. They're staying inside.
   "I'm on my third 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle," said Rutherford, who lives in Carterville, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis. "I haven't done that in a long time."
  Cabin fever is setting in for countless Americans as bitter cold, heavy snowfall and paralyzing ice storms keep pounding a large swath of the country. School districts across two-thirds of the U.S. are reporting higher than normal numbers of snow days, while social service agencies are trying to work around the forecasts to get to people in need.
   Heavy snow was falling — again — in New York on Monday, and up to 8 inches of snow was expected Tuesday in Kansas City, Mo. Later this week, snow was forecast from the Plains to the East Coast, with no break in the cold.
   Some records have been broken — Detroit, for example, recorded 39.1 inches of snow in January, a record for the month — but the weather isn't especially unusual, said Alex Sosnowski, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather. He said this winter seems worse because so many recent winters have been mild.
   "A lot of people probably are going a little stir crazy," he said. "But if you look at the broad picture, this is probably a once in 10- to 20-year winter. We were probably due for it a little bit."
   That isn't welcome news for those holed up at home, especially parents whose children keep racking up snow days.
   In Indiana, where some schools were closed for a full week in January because of the weather and road conditions, Joanne Kehoe has to entertain her four children, ages 2 through 8, when classes get cancelled in Indianapolis. She said it can be especially trying because her oldest is autistic and has a "tendency to bolt" if he is off his routine, so that limits where the family can go.
   It helps that her husband, an attorney, can often take time off work.
   "We usually divide and conquer," Kehoe said, acknowledging that shoveling snow while listening to e-books provides her "a little quiet time."
   Amy Murnan has been homebound with her four children — ages 8, 10, 12 and 13 — in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina on four snow days, an unusually large number for a region well-accustomed to tough winters. But she welcomes the break.
   "We're really busy and we spend most of the time running around to games and practices and lessons," Murnan said. "So it was actually kind of great for me to have nowhere to be and nothing to do. We don't get that very often."
   In suburban St. Louis, students in the Rockwood School District have already missed more than a week of school because of snow or ice. One snow day was called because it was too cold for the buses to start.
   "After the eighth snow day, even the kids were like, 'We're happy to be in school,'" district spokeswoman Cathy Orta said. "But safety is our first priority."
   The weather also has taxed communities' pocketbooks.
   St. Louis has already opened the city's main emergency homeless shelter more days than budgeted. In Kansas, county officials keep lists of people who live in areas that tend to become isolated in winter storms, and can enlist the National Guard to help if needed, said Sharon Watson, a spokeswoman for the state adjutant general.
   Programs that provide in-home services, such as Meals on Wheels, have had to plan around the forecasts. Sarah McKinney, who runs the program in Athens, Ga., said last week's ice storm forced the program to shut down for two days. Volunteers, aware of the forecast, provided boxed meals in advance, so the seniors had plenty to eat.
   The bigger concern, McKinney said, is that the volunteers weren't able to check on their clients.
   "We check on these people five to seven days a week and we're seeing them face-to-face," McKinney said. "We don't like to let two full business days pass."
Published in National News
Wednesday, 08 January 2014 04:16

Warning issued over boiling water experiment

   Don't play with boiling hot water.  That's the message from officials at St. Louis Children's hospital after two children were treated Tuesday for facial burns.  

   Hospital spokeswoman Abby Wuellner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the pair had been injured when they threw a pot of boiling water into the air outside to see if it would turn to ice crystals or snow before hitting the ground.  

   The paper reports that interest in the at-home experiment has peaked since video of a Wisconsin weatherman doing it on Monday went viral.

Published in Local News
Friday, 03 January 2014 02:18

STL bracing for extreme winter weather

   St. Louis is seeing some of the harshest winter weather of the last couple of years.  Snow followed by bitterly cold temperatures seems to be a repeating pattern.  

   Snow is expected again Saturday night into Sunday, with 6-7 inches of accumulation possible.  

   That will be followed by historically cold temperatures and dangerous wind chills.  Meteorologists with the National Weather Service in St. Louis say it could be the coldest weather the metro area has seen in the last 20 years.  

   Low temperatures are expected to fall to zero or below both Monday and Tuesday mornings.  Daytime highs won't get out of the single digits and wind chills are expected to be 15-25 degrees below zero from Sunday through Tuesday. 

   Average highs and low temperatures for St. Louis in early January are 40 and 24.
Published in Local News

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The onset of cold weather means that volunteers with Winter Outreach in St. Louis have sprung into action.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the grassroots organization offers eight temporary shelters with a combined 100 beds or so to help the homeless when the temperatures turn cold.

Volunteers drive and walk around the city and St. Louis County, seeking out those in need of shelter. The organization also shuttles people to shelters from the Bridge, a feeding program at Centenary United Methodist Church downtown.

The Housing Resource Center in St. Louis said that 14,155 people requested shelter through the city and St. Louis County through the end of November, but nearly three-fourths of them were unable to be referred to an open space.

Published in Around Town

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The onset of cold weather means that volunteers with Winter Outreach in St. Louis have sprung into action.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the grassroots organization offers eight temporary shelters with a combined 100 beds or so to help the homeless when the temperatures turn cold.

Volunteers drive and walk around the city and St. Louis County, seeking out those in need of shelter. The organization also shuttles people to shelters from the Bridge, a feeding program at Centenary United Methodist Church downtown.

The Housing Resource Center in St. Louis said that 14,155 people requested shelter through the city and St. Louis County through the end of November, but nearly three-fourths of them were unable to be referred to an open space.

Published in Local News

   HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A wintry storm pushing through the western half of the country is bringing bitterly cold temperatures that prompted safety warnings for residents in the Rockies and threatened crops as far south as California.

   The jet stream is much farther south than normal, allowing the cold air to push in from the Arctic and drop temperatures by 20 to 40 degrees below normal levels, AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines said Tuesday.

   Areas of Montana and the Dakotas were forecast to reach lows in the minus-20s, while parts of California could see the thermometer drop to the 20s. The icy arctic blast was expected to be followed by another one later in the week, creating an extended period of cold weather that hasn't been seen since the late 1990s, meteorologists said.

   Officials warned residents to protect themselves against frostbite if they are going to be outside for any length of time.

   "When it gets this cold, you don't need 30, 40 mile-per-hour winds to get that wind chill down to dangerous levels. All it takes is a little breeze," Kines said.

   The storm hit the northern Rockies on Monday and Tuesday, dumping up to 2 feet of snow in the mountains and in Yellowstone National Park.

   Snow and ice created hazardous driving conditions throughout the West, and were a factor in a four-vehicle crash in central Montana that killed 21-year-old Chelsea Stanfield of Great Falls. Authorities said Stanfield was driving too fast for the conditions.

   The weather also closed a stretch of Interstate 90 on Tuesday between Sheridan and Buffalo, Wyo. In eastern Oregon, authorities closed much of Interstate 84 as trucks jackknifed in the snow. Transportation authorities in Utah and Nevada reported dozens of crashes.

   In the Dakotas, cattle ranchers who lost thousands of animals in an October blizzard were bracing for the latest wintry weather, with wind chills of 40 degrees below zero expected by week's end.

   Cattle should be able to withstand the harsh conditions better than they did the Oct. 4 blizzard, said Julie Ellingson, executive vice president of the North Dakota Stockmen's Association.

   "Cattle are a hardy species; they can endure a lot," she said. "With that October storm, they didn't have their winter hair coat yet. They've acquired some of that extra hair that will help insulate them better."

   The cold was expected to keep pushing south and bring near-record low temperatures to parts of California. Citrus famers in the Central Valley checked wind machines and ran water through their fields in anticipation of temperatures at or below freezing Tuesday night, followed by even colder weather on Saturday.

   However, farmers should not panic, said Bob Blakely of California Citrus Mutual, a trade association. Cold weather can be good for the crops, he said.

   "Trees and fruits need some of that cold weather to harden off and prepare for late December and January," he said.

   The system was pushing south, and Texans enjoying balmy 80-degree days should be seeing temperatures in the 40s by Thursday, Kines said.

   The cold air is expected to linger until next week then move east, where it will bring less-drastic temperature changes, he said.

Published in National News

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