Bundle up, Akronites: You could be part of history this week.
The National Weather Service warns a blast of Arctic air is coming, with some of the most extreme temperatures we've had to endure for quite some time.
Temperatures will be in the 20s early Tuesday and things will quickly go downhill from there.
The area is already under a wind chill watch from Tuesday night through Thursday afternoon. On Wednesday, the high temperature is not expected to go above zero; the last time that happened was in January 1994.
The weather service warns temperatures on Wednesday night and Thursday morning could be around -12, the lowest here since February 2015, and "could break daily records by several degrees." Factoring in winds expected to be from 10 to 20 mph — with some gusts higher — wind chills will be anywhere from 25 to 35 degrees below zero.
"This will cause life-threatening cold conditions," the weather service advises, saying it's very likely some homes and buildings will have frozen pipes and some car batteries will fail.
The dire forecast has already prompted cities like Canton and Akron to open shelters for folks to stay warm. The threat has also closed some government offices for midweek, and more closings are expected, including school districts once the mercury actually begins to fall.
Copley-Fairlawn Superintendent Brian E. Poe emailed parents in the Summit County school district Monday afternoon warning them that while no decision had been made, it was highly likely there will be no school Wednesday or Thursday and families should plan accordingly.
Stow Municipal Court will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Cases are being rescheduled and those defendants who were scheduled to appear for criminal or traffic arraignments on either day will be bumped to Friday and Monday. The court's Community Control (probation) Office will also be closed.
Ohio's Department of Aging is urging "Ohioans to treat extreme temperatures just as you would a coming snow or ice storm," and to check in on older relatives and neighbors.
“Extremely cold temperatures can take a physical toll on all of us, but also threaten important parts of community and home infrastructure that we and our older loved ones rely upon to stay safe and comfortable in our homes,” said Ursel McElroy, director of the department.
The state suggests having an emergency kit that includes a battery-operated radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, extra blankets and warm clothing, food that you can open and prepare easily, and plenty of clean drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day), in case water supply lines are compromised.
• Open cabinet doors under sinks on exterior walls of your home and turn faucets to a slow drip to help prevent pipes from freezing.
• Place rolled-up towels or blankets around drafty windows and doors.
• Know where the main valves and switches are for gas, water and electricity and ensure you or someone you trust can shut them off if necessary.
If you must use portable space heaters to warm your home, check that they have been tested and meet safety standards. Keep heat sources at least 3 feet from combustible items, like papers, blankets and curtains. Never leave a fireplace or portable heater unattended; turn off heaters and extinguish flames when you leave the room or go to bed.
Never use appliances that weren’t designed to heat your home, such as cooking stoves and ovens, for that purpose.
For those looking for a place to stay warm during the day in Akron, the city is extending hours at four community centers Wednesday and Thursday. They will open at 8:30 a.m. and close at 10 p.m.:
• Mason Park, 700 E. Exchange St., 330-375-2821
• Patterson Park, 800 Patterson Ave., 330-375-2819
• Summit Lake, 380 W. Crosier St., 330-375-2826
• Lawton Street, 1225 Lawton St., 330-375-2825
The Salvation Army in both Akron and Barberton will be open as warming centers on Wednesday and Thursday. The downtown Akron site, 190 S. Maple St., south of St. Vincent Church on West Market Street, will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Barberton center, 560 Wooster Road W., will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Salvation Army is collecting donations of new or clean winter hats, gloves and scarves at both centers.
There's another way to stay warm and do some errands and sightseeing at the same time. From Tuesday through Friday, Metro is offering free fares on all services, including line-service, Northcoast Express, SCAT and Call-A-Bus.
“We do not cancel operations; this is transportation people can rely on. We run 359 days a year, in all weather conditions,” said Metro Executive Director Dawn Distler in a statement. “We want to make the boarding process as easy as possible for folks coming in from the cold, so we decided to waive fares during the Arctic blast. It was an easy decision to make.”
Craig Webb can be reached at email@example.com.