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Extreme cold blasts Nebraska

February 3, 2011

The extreme cold has a way of pushing equipment to its limits. Power lines are no exception.
Monday evening the power went out near First and N Street in Broken Bow due to a connector problem. Most businesses were running on half power Tuesday morning as utility workers repaired the lines.
According to the utility department, residential homes turned cold so that the power pull it took to heat them back up blew a fuse.
A second power outage for the day was on South H. A line broke due to a stressed area, once again due to the cold.
“The hard part is that the work is so painfully slow” Broken Bow Utilities Superintendent Doug Staab commented. “Watching the lift slowly move up is hard when it is so cold. Nothing wants to go.”
Area schools went from having a late start in Tuesday, to canceling all together.
“The bottom line was the wind chill” Ken Kujath responded when asked about the deciding factor for closing school Tuesday. “We just couldn’t put 900 people on the road and in a dangerous situation.”
One often imagines sledding, snowball fights and building snowmen when you think of winter. These last few days however, that has not been the case. Due to negative temperatures and high winds, simply staying warm has been all most people can think about.
According to Shawn Jacobs of the National Weather Service, windchills in the Broken Bow area hit 20-30 degrees below zero Tuesday evening, 40 degrees below if you were standing on a hilltop.
“Skin at that temperature will feeze in less than 10 minutes,” he said.
”Keeping exposed skin covered is the big thing and dressing in layers.”
Holcomb Mechanical has seen almost triple the calls for heating issues. Trotter Service Station has had an increase in their full-service fueling. Pharmacies are mailing and delivering more prescriptions to customers who can’t get out in the bitter cold. City workers are in the shop working on equipment, making sure it is ready for the next snowfall.
All over people are finding it difficult to work in negative degree weather and double digit wind chill.
Driving in these winter conditions is another key issue many people are concerned with.
The general rule for driving is the “three-second” rule; keeping a three-second gap between you and the vehicle ahead of you. On icy roads and in blowing snow though, a more accurate allowance would be four to six seconds.
If conditions are so bad that you might have a difficult time stopping in that considerable cushion, you might think twice before driving at all.
The major part of safe driving when roads are unfavorable is speed. Slowing down is the key issue.
Cruise control, although convenient, can be dangerous in winter weather. Not using the cruise control will help you stay more alert and avoid over-reacting to sudden changes.
Anticipate ahead of time what your options would be if you had to act swiftly to sudden changes, and always buckle up.
With winter only being a third over we have more days of cold weather to face. Jacobs said Thursday and Friday should be nice, with temperatures edging above freezing, but expect another blast of winter weather to roll in around Sunday. Another Arctic front is coming our way, so take your time and remember to bundle up, it’s cold out there!

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