The last week of 2017 in Harford County has turned into a cold one, with overnight temperatures in the low teens and daytime ones barely getting to freezing.
No immediate relief from the cold before the new year was being forecast by the National Weather Service. In addition, although it was sunny Wednesday and Thursday, forecasters warned there could be some snow on the way — scattered flurries are predicted for Friday, and there is a 60 percent chance of light snow Saturday, according to the NWS website.
“For a while, I think we’re going to be averaging below normal, and at times well below normal [temperatures],” Brian LaSorsa, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Baltimore/Washington forecast office in Sterling, Va., said Thursday.
An Arctic air mass has come south from Canada, as the east-west jet stream moves farther south, leaving cold air “entrenched” over the central and eastern U.S., according to LaSorsa.
He said this “unfavorable pattern” could continue for the next nine to 10 days.
“It looks like it’s going to be very cold for New Year’s Eve [Sunday], and into next week, even,” he said.
People should dress in layers if they are outside and try to avoid any exposed skin. Skin that is exposed should not stay exposed for too long because of the risk of frostbite to ears, noses and fingers, LaSorsa said.
The Harford County Public Library has made all of its branches available during regular business hours for use as warming centers, Harford County government spokesperson Ben Lloyd said Thursday.
Also, the Freezing Weather Plan has been activated until further notice for homeless individuals, Lloyd said.
County personnel and those of allied state and local agencies have been advised to direct anyone encountered who is sleeping outside in places not meant for human habitation to the Harford Community Action Agency, at 1010 Gateway Road in Edgewood between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. for access to the shelter, he said.
Several tips for homeowners to prepare their heating systems for the cold and saving energy costs were included in a news release on BGE’s website.
The tips include scheduling a service appointment to check a heating system, plus turning the water heater down to 120 degrees (warm setting) and setting the thermostat “as low as it is comfortable for you” to save money.
Homeowners should keep natural gas vents clear of ice and snow to ensure carbon monoxide or natural gas does not build up in their dwelling, according to the release.
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office, which is responsible for animal control, posted cold-weather tips for pet owners on its Facebook page.
“It's brutally cold out there, and will be for a while,” according to the post. “Make sure you have proper provisions for outdoor pets.”
Pets that stay outdoors should have above-ground shelters with doors or flaps and comfortable bedding — Animal Control staff do not recommend blankets since the material can freeze, according to the post.
Pet owners should ensure the water in the pet shelter is not frozen, according to the post.
“And of course if all else fails, bring them in out of the cold!” according to the statement.