The winter storm pounding the northeastern United States brought rain to the Gulf Coast this week. Northwest Florida and south Alabama are also slated for a return to the deep freeze.
The Gulf Coast rain was the tail-end of the strong cold front that’s expected to drop more than a foot of snow on New England. As the rain moved out, frigid air moved in, bringing down temperatures. Lows and wind chill factors are forecast to be in the 20s, with highs in the 40s on Friday.
For the next few days the area will be on a weather roller-coaster. Cold Friday night, a slight warm-up over the weekend, and then the bottom falls out again early next week, with temperatures back down in the 20s in the evening and 40s during the day.
As the temperatures drop, concerns rise about the dangers posed by the improper use of heating devices, such as space heaters near flammable objects. Three feet from everything is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association. There should also be an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) listing. Also, be sure that the space heater has a “tip over” switch.
Another possible hazard is carbon monoxide, which can emit from improperly vented fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. CO colorless, odorless, and tasteless. When it reaches a certain level in the body it displaces oxygen, causing asphyxiation.
When nighttime lows are 40 degrees or below between December and March, that prompts local cold-weather shelters to open. For the next few nights, Waterfront Rescue Mission in Pensacola will offer shelter, as will Ferris Hill Baptist Church in Milton. The doors there open at 6:30 pm, with nobody admitted after 8:30 unless brought in by law enforcement. The shelter will close at seven o’clock the next morning.
Cold-weather shelters are also open tonight at Community of Christ Church in Navarre, and at New Beginnings Church in Crestview.