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Record set Wednesday for third lowest temperature ever in Watertown

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Temperatures in Watertown hit a record low of minus 37 degrees Wednesday morning, briefly making it the coldest city in the United States along with Embarrass, Minn., according to the National Weather Service.

This beats the previous record of minus 32 degrees set for Watertown in 1970, according to the service’s historical climate data for Jan. 22.

Sam McCown with the NWS said 37 below zero also is the third lowest temperature ever recorded in Watertown — still not as cold as the minus 43 degrees recorded on Jan. 16, 1994, and the minus 38 on Jan. 4, 1981 — and “the coldest for this late in the season.”

A wind chill warning also was in effect in Jefferson and Lewis counties until 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The low recorded at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield at Fort Drum was minus 25.

In St. Lawrence County, the temperature fell to minus 29 degrees at Massena International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

“The coldest air out in St. Lawrence Valley was (Tuesday) night when we had lows around negative 30. It will be slightly warmer (Wednesday night) and by Friday it will hopefully warm up to 10 or 12 degrees above zero,” NWS meteorologist Michael Muccilli said. The coldest Wednesday morning “was in Gouverneur at negative 34 and Massena was negative 30. The Potsdam area, if you want to say warmer, was negative 20 to negative 24.”

In Massena, Route 37 Auto Body co-owner William E. “Sandy” Robertssaid that Wednesday was “the worst day” and “plenty of car batteries have been dead.” He also noted that both January and February seem to be the months when cars encounter the most issues.

“It varies. It could be January or it could be February, it depends when the cold spell comes. When it gets around negative 30, cars have a lot of trouble starting,” Mr. Roberts said.

While temperatures are slowly creeping up, the Arctic chill will linger another day today with high temperatures staying in the single digits, 5 degrees, and lows dipping down to around 25 below zero tonight, according to the weather service. Highs could reach 15 degrees Friday afternoon, but the weather service is forecasting snow that day and over the weekend.

A report by the Associated Press said that temperatures in Fairbanks, Alaska, were expected to hit record highs this week in the 60s, according to the NWS.

So far this month, weather stations in the Lower 48 have broken or tied more than 2,600 records for cold, while Alaskan weather stations have broken or tied more than 20 daily temperature records for warmth.



Here are some tips from the American Red Cross to survive the harsh weather this week:

n Wear layers of lightweight clothing. Gloves and a hat will help prevent losing body heat.

n Be extremely careful if you have to shovel snow. Take frequent breaks and stay hydrated.

n Seek medical attention immediately if you have symptoms of hypothermia, including confusion, dizziness, exhaustion and severe shivering.

n Watch for symptoms of frostbite, including numbness, flushed gray, white, blue or yellow skin discoloration, numbness, or waxy feeling skin.

n Bring your pets indoors. If they can’t come inside, make sure that they have enough shelter to keep them warm and that they can get to unfrozen water.

n Avoid frozen pipes by running water, even at a trickle, to help prevent them from freezing. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. If children are nearby, be sure to move any harmful cleaners and chemicals out of reach. Keep garage doors closed if there are water lines in the garage.

n Keep the thermostat at the same temperature day and night. Your heating bill may be a little higher, but you could avoid a more costly repair job if your pipes freeze and burst.

n Download the free American Red Cross App on iTunes or Google Play for quick, expert advice on what to do in case of an emergency.

HOW COLD? Low temperatures in the north country Wednesday:
City of Watertown-25 Watertown airport -37 (record) Canton -30 Fort Drum-25 Lowville -23 Massena -30 (record)
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