Bitter cold blasts Centre County

Students bundled up walk through campus on Sunday, February 15, 2015. Single digit temperatures and wind swept Centre County.
Students bundled up walk through campus on Sunday, February 15, 2015. Single digit temperatures and wind swept Centre County. CDT photo

Single-digit temperatures felt much colder this weekend due to extreme wind chill factors, and though the heavy winds are expected to blow away by Monday, Centre County residents will have to get used to frigid temperatures for a few days.

“This bitter cold looks like it will be with us for much of the upcoming week,” AccuWeather senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

The high winds this weekend were the result of the area being caught between a storm in New England and an arctic high pressure system to the west, causing a “squeeze play” driving the wind from the north and northwest, Pydynowski said. As for temperatures, a near record low of minus 7 degrees was expected through the night Sunday into Monday morning. The coldest the area has seen for this time of year was minus 8 degrees, he said.

The blustery conditions, snow and cold had an effect on some businesses and travel. The weather caused flight cancellations and delays Saturday at University Park Airport and kept crews maintaining the runways, as employees plowed and put salt down through the night into Sunday morning, line service technician Nate Gattey said. They were also busy deicing wings and fuselages of planes before takeoffs, he said.

Fuel trucks, which run on diesel fuel, had to be left running to ensure they’d run normally but jet fuel has an additive in it, called Prist, that keeps the fuel from freezing at high altitudes and during frigid weather on the ground, Gattey said. Flights were expected to arrive and depart on time through Sunday.

“It’s business as normal today,” Gattey said of flights Sunday.

The ski area at Tussey Mountain was closed Sunday due to safety concerns, like the risk of frostbite, created by the weather, operations director Bennett Hoffman said.

“I don’t want staff and guests out there in these kind of extreme temperatures,” he said.

There are also some mechanical factors that came into play when making the decision, Hoffman said. Higher winds like those over the weekend can cause a bumpy ride and other problems with chairlifts.

The slopes will reopen at noon Monday, Hoffman said.

The cold didn’t keep everyone closed for business. Girl Scout Kelly Snyder, 13, of State College, sold cookies outside The Corner Room in downtown State College with former Girl Scout Gwen Snyder, 17, and troop leaders Chrissy Snyder and Katie Oliver. They sipped hot chocolate provided by the restaurant and held a sign that read “Please Buy Cookies, We’re Cold,” decorated with snowflakes.

The weather caused them to set up a little later in the day, but they still sold a good number of treats, Katie Oliver said. Some customers utilized the proximity to College Avenue and pulled up to the curb to purchase Thin Mints and Samoas from the warmth of their vehicles.

Gwen Oliver, though no longer a Scout, was drafted into service selling cookies for the first time this year. The cold had her rethinking being outside all afternoon.

“Well, I tried to back out and it didn’t work too well,” she said.

Sunday evening, State College and Bald Eagle Area school districts announced they will be operating on a two-hour delay Monday due to the cold weather.

For the rest of the week, the region can expect highs in the mid-teens to the low 20s and lows in the single digits and as cold as zero, Pydynowski said. Between 1-3 inches of snow is expected Monday night into Tuesday.

The temperatures are much colder than normal for this time of year, he added. Normal lows are 22 degrees and highs are a comparatively balmy 37 degrees.

“We’re seeing highs lower than normal lows,” Pydynowski said.