Cold weather closes Philipsburg-Osceola, Bald Eagle Area schools; Schlow library also closed Tuesday

If you happen to be reading this either west of the Rockies or on South Beach in Miami, you’re in one of the few areas in the United States that’s not being gripped by some of the coldest weather of the year.

The rest of the nation looks like a giant ice cube on national weather maps. That’s because yet more polar air is making its way down from Canada, infiltrating almost the entire country with below-average temperatures.

Cold weather Tuesday closed two Centre County school districts: Bald Eagle Area and Philipsburg-Osceola.

The Bellefonte and State College school districts were delayed by two hours.

South Hills School of Business and Technology also announced a two-hour delay for Tuesday.

And in State College, Schlow Centre Region Library was forced to close Tuesday because sometime overnight Monday a breaker switch blew on the HVAC system, cutting off the heat, library Director Cathi Alloway said.

Alloway said the maintenance issues have been fixed, but that the library would remain closed Tuesday as a precaution.

“It was enough to close the library and we want to keep everyone safe,” she said.

The library is expected to reopen at 9 a.m. Wednesday.

“Much of the country is in a deep freeze,” said David Martin, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College. “The jet stream pattern is highly amplified. The jet (stream) dips far down, straight from Alaska, and it’s pulling all the cold air from Siberia and Alaska as it swings eastward.”

In Centre County, the National Weather Service issued yet another wind chill advisory, from 11 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday. The advisory was updated from a watch Monday morning.

With the help of 10- to 15-mph winds and gusts up to 30 mph, the wind chill was expected to register as low as 25 degrees below zero, according to NWS.

Monday’s temperatures plummeted throughout the day. By 9 p.m., the temperature was in the single digits and expected to fall below zero overnight. Tuesday’s high is expected to be 10 degrees with a low of 4 degrees below zero.

Twice this year, subzero temperatures have closed or delayed several area schools.

Jan. 17-25 are typically the coldest days of the year, Martin said. And as long as the jet stream continues to push far downward, the cold will remain.

“At times, it backs off, but it’s been a very persistent weather pattern this year,” Martin said. “It’s been since the mid-’70s that the pattern has been this persistent.”

Experts say those who must be outside should take extra precautions, such as dressing in layers and being sure that no skin is exposed. Hypothermia and frostbite are possible if precautions aren’t taken, and emergency supplies and a blanket should be packed if traveling in a car.

As the days grow longer and more heat is brought by the sun, February should be warmer. But there’s no guarantee, Martin said.

“Given the snowpack in Canada and overall, we’ll have shots of cold air into February,” he said. “It may be close to zero or below zero, but it should be less frequent.”