GREG LOWER

The Chanute area is bracing for the wintery-est winter weather so far this winter.

A wind chill advisory is in effect until noon today and a winter storm watch is in effect from 6 am Sunday to 6 pm Monday with forecasts of snow and wind chills as low as -20 degrees.

The record low for Saturday night is 3 degrees and the forecast calls for a low of 1 degree above zero. The record low for Sunday night is -2 and the forecast calls for -6.

The record low for Friday was -6 set in 1980. Martin Johnson Municipal Airport reported a low of 8 degrees with a wind chill of -9 Friday morning. It was 11 degrees at 7 pm.

Volunteers with Friday’s food pantry distribution at First Christian Church had to unload the truck one box at a time because the doors froze shut.

Otterbein United Methodist Church has cancelled Sunday services.

Roger Brooks with Brooks Heating and Air Conditioning said furnace owners need to keep clean filters installed and have their systems checked yearly.

“It’s pretty critical when it’s going to be like zero in a couple of days,” he said.

He said it costs more to have a breakdown than to have a furnace checked in advance and take care of any problems then. Brooks has been in business for 50 years and said he has taught customers to take care of their furnaces.

Service calls for area heating businesses have doubled and possibly tripled in the last week.

Although winters are usually not cold enough to cause pipe freezing, customers also are having sewer problems. 

The weather has been so dry that tree roots have gotten more extensive, and people are staying home more because of the cold.

Condensation also causes drains to freeze.

Ted Dent with A-1 Heating and Air also said calls had at least doubled. He said the extreme weather causes more breakdowns by finding the weak spots, just like 100 degree days in summer do for air conditioners.

Experts advise that to prevent pipes from freezing, residents should leave the faucet on enough to drip. 

It also helps to open cabinet doors in front of pipes.

But they also caution against using an oven to warm spaces because of safety reasons.

People who use electric space heaters are warned to use only one per outlet and not to use extension cords.

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