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Winter weather to blast region early in week

BY LAUREL BLACKlblack@paducahsun.com

Frigid air and some wintry precipitation is still on track to slam the area tonight, with bone-chilling temperatures possibly persisting until Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

Precipitation will begin as rain and turn to snow around 9 a.m. today along the Ohio River corridor. McCracken County can expect to receive between two to four inches of snow, and possibly a short-lived bout of freezing rain, NWS meteorologist Kelly Hooper said.

Temperatures will also start to plummet today. Highs this morning could be in the mid-30s, but the low tonight could dip to -1. Hooper predicted the wind chill tonight will be the most severe of the week, dropping to between -20 and -30 degrees.

Monday brings a high of about 2 degrees, with a low Monday night of -2. Temperatures are expected to hover close to zero until about 6 a.m. Tuesday, Hooper said.

"With those kinds of temperatures and wind chills, you can get frostbite on exposed skin within 30 minutes. If you can avoid the elements, it would be good," he said.

Highs on Tuesday may feel balmy compared to Sunday and Monday, as temperatures could reach 18 degrees and the wind chill may improve dramatically. Wednesday could bring a wintry mix and highs of around 34 degrees, but Hooper said that depends on the amount of snow cover the area receives.

The area likely won't see any respite until Thursday, when the air could warm into the upper 30s due to the arrival of another storm system.

The cold temperatures won't smash any records, but they do flirt with one, Hooper said.

"We're nowhere near our record lowest temperatures, but we are going to be near some of the lowest highs recorded," Hooper said.

Aside from driving on slick roads, the cold itself represents the biggest hazard when dealing with the storm system.

"In this part of the country, people are not accustomed to those types of temperatures," Hooper said, adding that simply dressing warmly can help residents withstand temperatures much colder than those forecast for this region.

Hooper added that alternative heating methods sometimes used during cold weather can result in carbon monoxide poisoning. Residents who do not follow safety precautions, such as paying attention to heating devices and checking smoke alarms, could also put themselves in danger.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

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