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Some quick super-cold weather questions

By The Examiner staff

What’s the coldest it’s ever been in Kansas City?

On back-to-back days in 1989 – Dec. 22 and 23 – the temperature hit 23 below zero at Kansas City International Airport, where the National Weather Service makes official recordings for Kansas City.

According to the Missouri Climate Center at the University of Missouri, the all-time lowest temperature recorded in the state was 40 below zero on Feb. 13, 1905 in Warsaw.

The lake between Bass Pro Shop and Waterfall Park in Independence was frozen over Friday after days of temperatures in the teens and single digits. Low temperatures are forecast to be below zero in the coming days. No matter the cold temperatures, walking on the ice at the lake is not permitted – and authorities remind people that walking out on ice can be dangerous.

Isn’t this the coldest it’s been in a while?

Yes. The low for 2020 was zero on Feb. 14, it’s expected to beat that repeatedly over the next few nights. 

The low for 2019 was minus 6 on Jan. 30, and the Weather Service forecasts that to be beaten – maybe a couple times – in the next few nights.

The low for 2018 was minus 11 on New Year’s Day – the coldest day of the last five winters. The next few nights are in that range.

What should I carry in my car?

Besides a windshield scraper and brush to deal with any winter precipitation, officials advise several other items you should have or consider having in your vehicle when you drive in the winter, lest you get stranded: 

• Battery booster cables.

• Mobile phone, charger, batteries.

• Shovel.

• Blankets and sleeping bags

• Flashlight with extra batteries.

• First-aid kit.

• Knife.

• High-calorie, non-perishable food.

• Extra clothing to keep dry.

• Large empty can to use as emergency toilet, tissues, toilet paper and paper towels.

• Small can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water.

• Sack of sand or cat litter for traction (both for spreading and added weight)

• Tool kit.

• Tow rope.

• Water container.

• Candle and matches to provide light and in an emergency, lifesaving heat.

• Compass and road maps. Don't depend on mobile devices with limited battery life.

Any reminders for at home?

Fire and emergency officials remind people to make sure furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, generators and heaters are functioning properly, and make sure space heaters are well-spaced and not overloaded on outlets or extension cords. 

Also, having appropriate cabinet doors open or a lightly dripping faucet can help prevent water pipes from freezing.

What about pets?

Veterinarians and animal experts generally warn people against keeping their pet dogs and cats outside to sleep in such frigid temperatures, and tjo limit their time outdoors for play or going for a walk. Some longer-haired animals deal with the cold better, but all can be susceptible to frostbite on their paws if left outside too long.

Wasn’t it unusually warm just a few weeks ago?

Yes. On Dec. 9 the temperature reached 68 at KCI, a record for that date. And three-plus weeks ago, on Jan. 21, it hit 61.

Have we had more snow than normal?

No. The area has had 8.6 inches of snow so far this winter as of late this week, which is 4.3 inches below average. So far February – at 2.4 inches – is just one-tenth of an inch over average.

But it’s still dry and we need the rain or snow or sleet, right? (OK, not sleet.)

Yes, because 2020 was so dry down the stretch, but 2021 at 2.73 inches since Jan. 1 is slightly ahead of the average – 1.55 inches – at this point.