York is facing near-zero temperatures and a wind chill of up to minus 25 degrees, a harsh cold that can cause frostbite on exposed skin in less than five minutes.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind chill advisory for York and surrounding counties through Tuesday evening, warning residents that the cold they're about to experience will fall dangerously outside the area's winter norms, said Aaron Tyburski, a meteorologist at the service's State College office.
These temperatures are normal for the extreme climates of places such as northern Canada and Alaska, Tyburski said, but norms for York County this time of year are about 38 during the day and an overnight low of about 20.
Central Pennsylvanians will need to switch their brains out of the mindset that they'll be fine to make a quick trip to the convenience store without their coats, he said.
People could be exposed to the extreme cold, potentially even at risk of hypothermia, if some unforeseen circumstance caused them to be outside without proper winter gear for even around 10 minutes, he said.
People should stay inside and, if they need to brave the elements, properly prepare themselves with heavy winter gear covering their skin, the weather service advised.
Temperatures were expected to fall throughout the day Monday, dropping to about 2 degrees overnight. For Tuesday morning's commute, Yorkers are looking at about 0 degrees and wind chills as low as minus 25.
Tuesday's high will be near 11, with below-zero wind chills continuing. The low temperature into Wednesday morning is forecast to fall to around 6 degrees, with wind chill values as low as minus 7.
The cause for the deep freeze is a large pool of very cold air that forms in the Arctic Circle and drops down the globe somewhere on Earth every winter, Tyburski said.
"It just happens to be our turn," he said.
But the York area could be rewarded for making it through the extreme cold, with temperatures expected to slowly return to winter norms Wednesday and Thursday before another perhaps more enjoyable extreme comes into play over the weekend.
It could hit the 50s by Sunday, he said.
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