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The dangers of sub-zero weather

Hypothermia can set in within minutes
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Posted at 5:46 PM, Jan 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-14 12:04:15-05

GREAT FALLS — Arctic air is in place over North Central Montana Monday, and it's going to stay there Tuesday as well.

Nearly the whole area is seeing daytime highs that are below zero, and overnight lows will fall as cold as the teens below zero, with some spots close to -20.

Wind chill temperatures by Tuesday morning will range from -20 to -50. The coldest wind chills are expected in Glacier, Liberty, Pondera, and Toole County, where are Wind Chill Warning is in effect though 5 pm Tuesday. Frostbite will be possible in as little as 5 minutes on exposed skin.

The rest of North Central Montana is under a Wind Chill Advisory through 5 pm Thursday, with wind chills ranging from -20 to -40 possible. In those areas, frostbite can occur on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.

Public Health nurse Davida Hryszko of the City-County Health Department said, "Bundle up, put a scarf over your face, wrap it around, signs are numbness, red, white, blueish or grayish, yellow skin, waxiness, stiff fingers, clumsiness."

CCDH Public Health nurse Mary Kay Burns added, "If you have a rescue inhaler or Albuterol, use that about 15 minutes before you go out into the cold air or before you go our and do any kind of exercise."

If you are concerned about asthma or trouble breathing, or if your face, fingers, or toes are numb or discolored from being outdoors you may have already been outside too long.

If you feel shivers or have slurred speech, you could be at risk of hypothermia.

Superintendent Tom Moore with great falls public schools says the safety of students is their main focus when weather is like this.

Moore said, "Our assistant superintendents for secondary and elementary are in close communication with their principals and if it's dipping down below freezing we're monitoring that."

When it comes to keeping students safe there are a few ways GFPS notifies parents of weather concerns.

There are safety tips and reminders on the GFPS website and social media pages.

Big Sky Bus Lines stays in communication with schools and parents on whether they will be late, and GFPS uses emergency notifications that parents can sign up for.

Moore also says it is ultimately up to parent if they decide to keep their children home and that when it comes to weather concerns, absences are considered excused.