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To understate the obvious, it has been a little cold lately.

Temperatures on Thursday topped out around 24 degrees at the Carroll County Regional Airport, according to the National Weather Service, while the distant edge of a “bomb cyclone” winter storm, so powerful along the coastline, merely dusted the county with less than an inch of snow in most places but enough to force the cancellation of schools in Carroll.

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The snow Thursday was in many ways an anticlimax to the past two weeks. Carroll County and much of the region have been stuck beneath an arctic high pressure system, with winds from the northwest bringing chilling arctic air into the Mid-Atlantic, according to NWS meteorologist Isha Renta.

“It’s been pretty consistent,” she said. “We’ve had a few fronts that have been reinforcing that cold snap.”

It will get colder before it gets any warmer, Renta said. Temperatures on Friday are projected to be in the mid-teens, she said, while gusts of some 36 mph will put wind chills in the negative values.

“We are talking about, in the early morning, as low as minus-12,” Renta said of the wind chill. “Then through the day the highest could be around minus-3 degrees.”

The low overnight Friday is projected to be in the single digits, she added.

Around 3 degrees with wind chill values around minus-14,” Renta said. “We are talking about very, very cold temperatures.”

With temperatures remaining low and a strong wind chill expected to move in later this week, many members in the community are seeing seeing plumbing problems.

That’s cold enough that the Cold Weather Shelter, managed by Human Service Programs of Carroll County Inc., will be extending morning hours, according to Director of Marketing and Outreach Matthew Peregoy, closing at 8:30 a.m. rather than the usual 7 a.m.

“We’ve had commitments from volunteers and the overnight staff to stay Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning,” Peregoy said. “We put this into place two years ago and the shelter manager has the authority to go ahead and check with staff and see if we can have the coverage.”

The Cold Weather Shelter has yet to see a big spike in clients, Peregoy said, averaging 30 to 40 people per night, but given the extreme chill forecast for the early morning and overnight hours, everyone is planning ahead for a surge. The extended morning hours, he said, should give people a little more time in the shelter while businesses and official daytime warming centers, such as the Westminster branch of the Carroll County Public Library system, get opened up and heated up.

Something else new this winter season is that HSP has arranged with Carroll County Government to keep open some of the designated county warming centers on holidays when those buildings would otherwise be close, staffing them with HSP volunteers.

“We actually did that over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, and we had the [Westminster Senior and Community Center] open,” Peregoy said. “We had 10 folks take advantage of that New Year’s Eve and 15 folks stayed with us New Year’s Day.”

The cold weather does wear down the resources of those who need the Cold Weather Shelter, Peregoy said, and donations are both welcome and helpful.

“We have a constant need for sweatpants and boxer shorts and gloves; wintry weather-proof kinds of gloves,” he said. “Those are the big needs that we are in short supply of.”

Anyone interested in coordinating a donation drive for the Cold Weather Shelter or making a direct donation of supplies should contact Peregoy at 410-857-2999, ext. 6648, or mperegoy@hspinc.org.

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With several days of sub-freezing temperatures ahead, it’s a good time to remind folks to check on elderly family members and neighbors, who have a greater risk of health problems and injuries when the weather gets frigid.

While the shelter system for humans prepares for the cold, the Humane Society of Carroll County reminds people to consider their animals. Numerous reports of animals found dead, and in some cases frozen solid, in parts of the mid-west and New England highlight just how extreme the low temperatures have been in some parts of the country.

“We do see an increased amount of calls whenever we have extreme whether, that’s both hot and cold. Thankfully most of them are unfounded,” said Carroll County Animal Control Officer Ed Smith. “But in the cases where we have extreme weather and the animals are not in a safe environment, we take the animals.”

With the types of low temperatures forecast the next three days, outdoor animals should have a source of heat, fresh food and water and bedding that will actually hold heat, such as wood shavings or straw, Smith said — blankets can hold moisture and should be avoided.

“Domestic animals, dogs and cats,” Smith said, “they need to be inside.”

And they may need to be inside for awhile. It may feel a little warmer over the weekend — Renta said the winds will drop off on Saturday and Sunday, but the high on Saturday will be only 15 degrees and the overnight low just above zero. Sunday’s high is projected at 22.

“We have a little bit hope Monday, for a high temperature of 36,” Renta said with a laugh. “It’s like summer.”

The Carroll County Department of Department of Citizen Services operates six warming centers throughout Carroll:

  • Citizen Services Office Building, 10 Distillery Drive, Westminster (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • Mount Airy Senior and Community Center, 703 Ridge Ave., Mount Airy (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • North Carroll Senior and Community Center, 2328 Hanover Pike, Hampstead (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • South Carroll Senior and Community Center, 5928 Mineral Hill Road, Eldersburg (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • Taneytown Senior and Community Center, 220 Roberts Mill Road, Taneytown (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday)
  • Westminster Senior and Community Center, 125 Stoner Ave., Westminster (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday)

All branches of the Carroll County Public Library system also function as warming centers during regular business hours, 9 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.

  • Eldersburg branch, 6400 Hemlock Drive, Eldersburg
  • Finksburg branch, 2265 Old Westminster Pike, Finksburg
  • Mount Airy branch, 705 Ridge Ave., Mount Airy
  • North Carroll branch, 2255 Hanover Pike, Hampstead
  • Taneytown branch, 10 Grand Drive, Taneytown
  • Westminster branch, 50 E. Main St., Westminster

Additional options for keeping warm are available during the day and include:

  • On Our Own (410-751-6600) provides a community center at 265 East Main St., Westminster. Hours vary and are available at www.onourownofcarrollcounty.org.
  • For after-hours needs, Human Services Programs of Carroll County Inc. operates a cold weather shelter at 127 Stoner Ave., Westminster, from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. during the cold weather season. Information about the shelter can be obtained by calling 410-857-8473.
  • In times when overflow space is needed, HSP has partnered with the Westminster Rescue Mission to provide transportation to a limited number of alternative overnight accommodations.
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