Frigid air, winds to chill Tri-Cities this weekend

Frigid air will mix with breezy conditions in the Mid-Columbia to send the mercury far below zero at night this weekend, weather forecasters said.

Emergency preparedness officials and others are urging people to take steps to protect themselves from the deep freeze.

A large blast of arctic air from Canada descended Friday into the Mid-Columbia, said Ann Adams, an assistant forecaster in the National Weather Service’s Pendleton office.

A storm front that had been churning off the coast has pushed inland. Precipitation from the storm didn’t hit the Tri-Cities, she said, but its 20-mph winds will.

The result is temperatures in the single digits or just below zero through Sunday night, but wind chill factors that make it feel like it’s as much as minus 13 degrees, Adams said.

The temperature fell to 4 degrees Thursday at the Hanford Meteorology Station, setting a new cold record for the date. The Hanford Meteorological Station keeps daily temperature records back to World War II.

The normal low temperature for Dec. 5 is 26 degrees. The previous record for the date was 7 degrees and was set in 1972.

Benton County Emergency Services is encouraging residents to check their home heating systems, wrap water pipes with insulation and disconnect outdoor water hoses.

People should also be careful with space heaters and not use certain heat and energy sources indoors, such as charcoal or wood grills and electric generators because they can produce carbon monoxide, an odorless gas that can kill.

Drivers should fill their gas tanks before extreme cold weather hits and do basic maintenance to avoid car trouble.

Keeping an emergency kit of food, water, warm blankets and clothes is also important, emergency officials said.