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Winter blast in much of US poses serious risks like black ice, frostbite and hypothermia

ATLANTA (AP) — Freezing temperatures and wind speeds are creating dangerously cold conditions in a large part of the U.S. stretching from Montana to northern Florida. The region is not expected to begin thawing out until Monday.

Here are some of the dangers the winter blast poses and how to protect against them:


Wind chill describes what the air temperature feels like to human skin from the combination of wind speed and temperature. It is expected to be in the single digits in parts of the southern U.S., including the Florida Panhandle, that are typically much warmer.In other places, it will drop below zero. Portions of Kansas will feel like 15 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (minus 26 degrees Celsius) on Saturday, according to the National Weather Service. In other areas, bitterly frigid air from Canada and wind will make it feel like minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 34 degrees Celsius) outside.


Forecasters say the risk of developing frostbite and hypothermia increases as the wind chill temperature falls.

Hypothermia occurs when the body’s stored energy is used up, causing its temperature to drop. People who remain outdoors for long periods — such as those who are homeless — are particularly at risk.

A series of storms before this weekend’s cold weather were blamed for at least 55 deaths around the country, many of them involving hypothermia.

In Tennessee, a 25-year-old man was found dead on the floor of a mobile home in Lewisburg after a space heater overturned and turned off, said Bob Johnson, chief deputy for the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office. “There was ice on the walls in there,” Johnson said.

Though less serious, frostbite is also a concern in cold weather. It occurs when skin — and sometimes underlying tissue — freezes. To prevent it, the American Academy of Dermatology advises people going outside to dress in layers and wear two pairs of socks, a heavy wool or fleece hat that covers the ears, a face mask or scarf and insulated mittens or gloves. It also advises people to stay hydrated and avoid alcohol.

In Atlanta, city officials announced two sites where people can go to stay warm will remain open through the weekend.

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