Polar vortex

A bundled-up Gilbert Weems of Baltimore waits for a bus on 33rd Street. (Barbara Haddock Taylor, Baltimore Sun / January 7, 2014)

Cold weather was a factor in the deaths of two people in Maryland during the first week of the year – before the record-breaking freeze of the past few days hit – according to state health officials.

A Baltimore County woman aged 65 or older and a Prince George's County woman between the ages of 45 and 64 died between Dec. 31 and Jan. 6. There have been six cold-related deaths so far this winter, including an elderly Baltimore woman and a Baltimore man aged 45-64.

Health officials do not release further details on any of the deaths for privacy reasons.

The deaths were reported in a weekly update from state health officials. A report to be released Jan. 15 is expected to include weather-related deaths that occurred in the frigid temperatures that hit the region from Monday night through Wednesday morning.

Tuesday's low of 3 degrees and high of 16 degrees at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport made it the coldest day there in 18 years. Wind gusts of more than 30 mph made it feel as cold as 15 degrees below zero and as warm as only the single digits Tuesday.

Cold weather hazards include frostbite, which can occur in a matter of minutes in those temperatures, and hypothermia.

sdance@baltsun.com

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