The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 6, 2014

Monday’s deep freeze sets record for Jan. 6

— Just how cold was it Monday in Joplin?

You would have to go back 102 years to 1912 to find a Jan. 6 as cold as it was on Monday.

The record for Jan. 6 in Joplin was minus 5 degrees in 1912. Joplin broke that record with a reading of minus 9 degrees on Monday.

Gene Hatch, a climate specialist with the National Weather Service forecast office in Springfield, said the wind chill on Monday made it feel like it was minus 24 degrees. A wind chill advisory remains in effect until noon today. The mercury should climb to 30 degrees today after an overnight low of minus 1.

Monday fell a few degrees short of breaking the all-time record low for Joplin of minus 15 degrees, which occurred on Dec. 23, 1989.

Joplin was forecast to reach a high of 7 degrees on Monday. Hatch said that put Monday’s average daily temperature at minus 1 or zero degrees.

It wasn’t the cold that was keeping Joplin’s emergency rooms busy on Monday. It was the ice that accompanied Sunday’s snowstorm. Spokeswomen for Mercy Hospital Joplin and Freeman Hospital West said their emergency rooms were busy treating people for fractures suffered from falls on the ice. They were not seeing cases of frostbite or hypothermia.

When it’s this cold, unprotected skin can become frostbitten after five minutes of exposure, according to health officials.

The cold was a factor in the hospitalization Monday of a rural Pittsburg, Kan., man. Crawford County Sheriff Dan Peak said deputies responded at 6:55 a.m. to a report of a man lying on the ground near a house at 2408 W. Fourth St.

The homeowner, John Thompson Jr., told deputies that he found Colter Steffens, 26, lying on the ground when he returned home from work. When deputies arrived, they found that Thompson had covered Steffens in an effort to warm him. The deputies moved Steffens indoors and continued to warm him.

Peak said it is unknown how long Steffens had been exposed before being found. Deputies found foot tracks in the snow near a vehicle that had broken down. Peak said Steffens was in serious condition when he was taken by Crawford County EMS to Via Christi Hospital in Pittsburg. Steffens reportedly was transferred by helicopter to the University of Kansas Medical Center, but a spokesman there could not confirm that Monday afternoon.

The winter storm caused the Community Blood Center of the Ozarks on Monday to issue a code yellow alert for all blood types. Cancellations and postponements of blood drives have negatively affected an already low blood inventory.

“The combination of last month’s winter storms and the holiday season had combined to bring our blood supply to pretty low levels already,” said Chris Pilgrim, marketing manager for the center.

“This latest storm has the potential to bring those stockpiles to a point we’ve not seen since the aftermath of the Joplin tornado in May of 2011. We need all donors and all types to respond immediately to ensure that patient care at our area hospitals goes uninterrupted.”

As of Monday, type O negative inventory levels were at less than 30 percent of normal, while type A negative levels were at 35 percent of normal, Pilgrim said.

With subzero temperatures forecast for this morning, city officials encouraged residents to check on family members, neighbors and friends to ensure their environment is adequate for enduring the frigid conditions.

The American Red Cross, as it did on Monday, will operate a warming shelter from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today at 410 S. Jackson Ave.

The city will decide this morning whether city buildings will be opened again today as warming centers.

Hatch, with the National Weather Service, said another winter storm will arrive from the southwest on Wednesday. It could produce a wintry mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain, but no bitter cold is expected.

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