Posts tagged with Weather

Daily Poll

De Soto schools are on their third snow day of the year thanks to the new snowfall from Wednesday afternoon. How do you feel about the snow? Do you enjoy it or is it the bane of your existence?

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County announces warming centers, cold-weather safety tips

The Johnson County Health Department encourages residents to understand the health risks of this cold weather and stay warm and sheltered in the below freezing temperatures. Johnson County government buildings and libraries are open during normal business hours for people who may need to warm up. (However, not that county offices and libraries will be closed Monday in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.)

Serious health problems can result from prolonged exposure to the cold.

The most common cold-related problems are hypothermia and frostbite. When exposed to cold temperatures, the body begins to lose heat faster than it can be produced. Prolonged exposure to cold will eventually use up the body's stored energy and result in hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature.

Warnings signs of hypothermia are shivering, exhaustion, confusion, fumbling hands, memory loss, slurred speech and drowsiness. Seek medical attention quickly if you have these symptoms.

Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and color in affected areas. It most often affects the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes. Frostbite can permanently damage the body, and severe cases can lead to amputation. The risk of frostbite is increased in people with reduced blood circulation and among people who are not dressed properly for extremely cold temperatures.

At the first signs of redness or pain in any skin area, get out of the cold or protect any exposed skin, as frostbite may be beginning. A victim is often unaware of frostbite until someone else points it out because the frozen tissues are numb. If you detect symptoms of frostbite, seek medical care.

If there is frostbite but no sign of hypothermia and immediate medical care is not available, proceed as follows:

  • Get into a warm room as soon as possible.
  • Unless absolutely necessary, do not walk on frostbitten feet or toes — this increases the damage.
  • Immerse the affected area in warm — not hot — water. The temperature should be comfortable to the touch for unaffected parts of the body.
  • Or, warm the affected area using body heat. For example, the heat of an armpit can be used to warm frostbitten fingers.
  • Do not rub the frostbitten area with snow or massage it at all. This can cause more damage.
  • Don't use a heating pad, heat lamp, or the heat of a stove, fireplace, or radiator for warming. Affected areas are numb and can be easily burned.

For more information, go to jocoem.org.

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Five Questions: Breaking the ice

Kansas State University Research and Extension Service answers these questions about de-icers and which ones can carry risks. Q: What materials are used in ice-melting products?

A: There are five main materials that are used as chemical de-icers: calcium chloride, sodium chloride or salt, potassium chloride, urea and calcium magnesium acetate.

Q: What’s the most popular?

A: Calcium chloride is the traditional product that has been used most often. It is one of the most frequently used materials for road and highway de-icing, and it is effective. It will transform ice into a slippery, slimy surface. This product is effective to about minus 25 degrees. Plants are not likely to be harmed unless excessive amounts are used.

Q: What about salt?

A: Sodium chloride is the least expensive material available. It is effective to approximately 12 degrees but can damage soil, plants and metals.

Q: Is something similar to vinegar also being marketed as a de-icer?

A: Calcium magnesium acetate, or CMA, is a newer product that is made from dolomitic limestone and acetic acid, the main compound found in vinegar. CMA works differently than other materials in that it does not form brine like salts, but rather helps prevent snow particles from sticking to each other on the surface. It has little effect on plant growth or concrete surfaces. The product works best when temperatures remain about 20 degrees.

Q: Are any of these de-icers better than the other?

A: All of these products are acceptable for use. Limited use of any of these products should cause little damage. Problems occur when de-icers are used excessively and there is not adequate rainfall to wash or leach the material from the area.

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Help with heating bills available through program

Help with heating bills is available for qualifying low-income families. The Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services, or SRS, is now accepting applications for its Low Income Energy Assistance Program.

The program primarily assists individuals with disabilities, elderly residents and families with children. In 2010, 50,946 households received an average benefit of $714.92.

Income eligibility guidelines are set at 130 percent of the federal poverty level.

SRS will begin processing applications Thursday.

For income guidelines or to apply for assistance, go online to ks-energy-assistance.com. Paper applications are available at local SRS offices or can be requested by calling 1-800-432-0043.

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NWS issues wind chill advisory for Johnson County through Wednesday; KDOT says many roads wet or partly snowpacked

As of 9 a.m., the National Weather Service reported the temperature in De Soto to be 5 degrees, but it feels like -14 degrees. If you have to go anywhere, bundle up!

The high is expected to be near 17 degrees, and blowing snow will be a problem through the morning and early afternoon. The winter weather advisory expired early this morning.

The frigid temperatures mean exposed skin is vulnerable to frostbite, so dress in layers with hats and gloves. Try to keep pets indoors as much as possible. If you must keep a pet outside, make sure it has warm, dry shelter and provide plenty of food and fresh, unfrozen water.

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Street crews working around the clock to stay on top of storm

De Soto streets crews have been out since 4 a.m., plowing primary streets and salting problem areas, and they have no plans to stop any time soon. "We started early and we're keeping at it," said Street Department superintendent Ron Creason. "Our trucks are out in full force and we've split into 12-hour shifts to keep things going as long as we need to."

Crews are concentrating on clearing the city's primary streets, Lexington Avenue and 83rd Street, with secondary streets, such as Commerce Drive and connecting residential streets, next on the list.

"It took awhile to get clearing this morning, especially as the snow was coming down pretty heavy, but we're catching up now," Creason said.

As the snow begins to taper off, Creason expects crews will be able to move beyond the primary and secondary streets and into more residential neighborhoods.

"So far it's been a pretty typical storm," Creason said. "We haven't had any major problems or breakdowns, so that's great for the first real snow of the year."

The snow has made it difficult for Honey Creek's disposal trucks to pick up loads. One truck was stuck this morning at the intersection of 83rd and Kickapoo streets. Pick-up may be delayed until later this afternoon or early Tuesday.

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Johnson County under winter weather advisory, KDOT reports roads are mostly snowpacked

Johnson County is under a winter weather advisory until 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. As of 8:30 a.m. today, the Kansas Department of Transportation is reporting that the roadways in Johnson County are mostly snowpacked and icy. They caution drivers to travel slowly and allow extra time to arrive at destinations.

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Ask the Farmer’s Almanac

The best days to castrate animals in January are the 6th and 7th.

To begin logging? The 3rd, 4th, 30th or 31st.

To make sauerkraut? The 26th and 27th. Who says? The phases of the moon ... and The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2011.

Started in 1792 by Robert B. Thomas, the almanac has been amusing and informing farmers and non-farmers alike for more than 200 years with a mix of astrology, predictions, wives’ tales and, these days, articles with full-color photographs.

Today’s almanac is put together by a full-time staff plus contributors and is full of information both modern (an article boasts the benefits of antioxidants found in colorful produce) and archaic (the dates previously mentioned were determined by the moon).

But what’s most amusing about the almanac is that it’s actually seriously helpful to farmers. Just because it claims to be “Useful, with a pleasant degree of humor” doesn’t mean it isn’t used as a tool by real farmers.

Jennifer Smith, horticulture extension agent with the Douglas County Kansas State Extension Office, says that her father, a commercial vegetable farmer, bought an almanac every year. And moreover, he scrawled down each month’s important dates on his calendar straight from the almanac. Though she’s not sure if this method helped improve his successes or not, she does say that sometimes the almanac amazes her with its accuracy.

“Sometimes I think it’s more accurate than what science would tell us that it should be,” Smith says. “I think it was last year when a lot of the weather people were predicting a mild winter and the Farmer’s Almanac was saying we were going to have a severe winter with a lot of precipitation. And they were correct about that.”

Stu Shafer, the farmer behind Sandheron Farm in Oskaloosa and professor at Johnson County Community College, says he’s also impressed with the accuracy of the weather predications by region.

“The weather forecasts have some interest because they seem to be about as accurate as anything, and they are fun because of the supposedly secret method they use going way back,” Shafer says.

This year’s forecast calls for a cold, dry winter and a summer that’s also dry and on the cool side.

So, what’s in the almanac besides the weather? Here’s a what’s what of the almanac:

It is an almanac, after all

The book is divided into a number of sections including gardening, food, weather, regional weather, astronomy, calendar, nature, amusement, health & home, farming, husbandry, sports, tide and time corrections, sports and classifieds.

Reader’s digest

Articles in the 2011 almanac include everything from recipes for Dutch ovens to the history and use of the scythe (“Scythe Matters: All About The Best Cutting-Edge Tool Ever”) to the aforementioned write-up on the antioxidants in certain fruits and veggies. There’s even an article with full-color photographs on “plantimals” — plants that look like animals. Really.

Dates, dates, dates

Yes, the almanac publishes the best days to castrate animals and make sauerkraut, but it also publishes the best days each month for anyone looking to grow something. For example, the bets days to plant above-ground crops in April are a very reasonable 10th and 11th.

Pleasant degree of humor

Also in this year’s almanac are 25 uncommon cures for the common headache. Among them, “weave a match into your hair,” “boil cottonweed in lye and smoke it,” and the vomit-inducing suggestion to “form fresh cow manure into a heat-producing poultice and put it on your head.”

If you do plan on getting a copy of the almanac, do remember to have some fun with it and use it as an almanac, not a bible, says Smith.

“I would say that it could be a fun use as a guide that you maybe don’t follow 100 percent of the time,” Smith says. “If it’s not inconveniencing you to follow some of the things, then it’s a fun way to garden. You just don’t want to get your hopes up on things being perfect because you planted them on specific days.”

By Sarah Henning

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De Soto spared bad-weather accidents

While the Johnson County Sheriff's Office was busy responding to both injury and non-injury accidents most of the evening, De Soto was largely unaffected by the poor driving conditions Wednesday night. The department responded to 29 non-injury accidents, seven injury accidents and 25 motorist assists. Of those, three non-injury accidents and one motorist assist took place near De Soto. Two accidents occurred at Kansas Highway 10 and Evening Star Road and the other was on K-10 west of Lexington Avenue. The motorist assist occurred at K-10 and Edgerton Road.

Units from the Northwest Consolidated Fire District also responded to an accident at K-10 and Evening Star Road but upon arrival found it had been handled by the Sheriff's Office.

According to Operations Chief Mark Billquist at the NWCFD, the majority of the road trouble was localized in the southern part of Johnson County.

"The K-10 accident was the only call we took last night that was weather-related," Billquist said. "Really there wasn't anything too serious around De Soto."

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Get your house ready for winter

Staying warm and saving money on heating costs are two goals that sometimes seem at odds when cold weather hits. Here are 10 steps that will help you do both. Step 1: Seal up cracks or crevices inside and outside the home. Look for gaps where different materials meet, such as brick and siding, wood and plaster, or flooring and drywall. Examine areas along the foundation for openings and imperfections. Remove any existing caulk that is worn or loose and replace it with a premium quality caulk. Fill additional voids with flexible caulk cord, spray foam insulation or weather strip.

Step 2: Examine exterior doors and replace torn or damaged door sweeps, thresholds and weather stripping.

Step 3: Remove screens and put up storm windows. Caulk or weather strip around storm windows to assure they have the best seal possible.

Step 4: Cover any windows that do not have functioning storms with plastic. Interior or exterior pre-packaged kits with double-sided sticky tape are easy to install and surprisingly energy efficient.

Step 5: Insulate behind switch plates and cover plates with pre-cut foam insulating gaskets.

Step 6: Reverse the direction of all ceiling fans. In the winter ceiling fan blades should rotate clockwise to push the heat down and properly circulate warm air.

Step 7: Wrap water lines with closed cell foam or fiberglass insulation. Install heat tapes on pipes that run through exterior walls or in unheated areas of the home such as crawl spaces and back porches.

Step 8: Check the furnace duct work for leaks, gaps or breaks. Insulate any duct work running through unheated portions of the home. Homes with improperly connected or poorly insulated ducts can lose up to 60 percent of the heated air before it reaches its destination.

Step 9: Change the furnace filter regularly. Furnace filters remove dust and other airborne particles that can damage the fan, motor and heating coils of the furnace. When the filter becomes clogged, the motor works longer and harder to pull air through. Strain on the motor increases the daily cost of heating and cooling and decreases the life expectancy of the furnace.

Step 10: Check your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they are functioning properly. If you do not have a carbon monoxide detector, now is the time to invest in one.

By Linda Cottin

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