Rhode Islanders are digging out of the first snow storm of 2014. Six to 10 inches of snow fell Thursday into Friday morning. The National Weather Service has issued a winter chill advisory for the region as wind chills are expected to reach -15, with a high around 14 degrees. Forecasters predict the snow will taper off around 10:00am, winds will pick up reaching 20 mph.
Gov. Lincoln Chafee said he’s pleased with how the state handled the first snow storm of the year. With crews out keeping roads clear, his concern now is the bitter cold that’s gripped the state.
“It looks like it’s going to be a north wind so if you have pipes on the north end side of the house, trying to keep the heat up on the north end side of the house, that’s usually where you find the freezing pipes,” said Chafee. “I know it’s expensive with the fuel costs and everything but you certainly don’t want to have freezing pipes and burst pipes.”
The governor is also concerned about homeless residents exposed to the cold. Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless said workers combed the streets Thursday and into the night, urging homeless residents to seek shelter. In the past week workers have encountered newly evicted senior citizens and young people who find themselves homeless for the first time.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross said it’s a good idea to check in with elderly friends and neighbors. Red Cross spokesman Paul Shipman said older people can suffer from hypothermia because they have difficulty regulating body temperature.
"Everybody is watching their budgets and we tend to keep the thermostat as low as we think is comfortable but if you’re not moving around a lot, if you’re not properly dressed, hypothermia is possible in the home as well," said Shipman.
Shipman urges everyone to take precautions in this cold weather, including wearing layers and limiting time outdoors. If you see signs of hypothermia like shivering and disorientation, seek medical attention right away.
Warming Centers Open in Rhode Island
East Greenwich: Swift Community Center, 121 Pierce St.; Fri: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
East Greenwich: East Greenwich Police Department Community Center; Fri: Any time after normal business hours and in the event of the Swift Community Center closing.
Hopkinton: Town Council Chambers; 1 Town House Rd.; Fri., 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Newport: The Florence Gray Center Main Lobby; 1 Shimoda Way; Mon. – Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Newport: Donovan Manor Chapel Street Side Lobby; 19 Chapel St.; Mon. – Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 4:30p.m.
Newport: Newport Public Library; 300 Spring St.; Fri.: Closed, Sat., 9:30 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.; Sun., 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Newport: Seamen’s Church Institute; 18 Market Square; Fri.: 7:00 a.m. until storm’s completion.
Pawtucket: Pawtucket Public Library, 13 Summer St.; Fri - Sat.: 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.
Pawtucket: The RIPTA waiting room on Roosevelt Ave downtown; Fri: 7 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Pawtucket: The Blackstone Valley Visitor Center at 175 Main St.; Sat: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pawtucket: Seniors with heat-related issues may also contact the Senior Center at 728-7582 or the city’s Seniors Liaison, Beth Roberge, at 728-0500, ext. 241.
South Kingstown: Neighborhood Guild; Fri: Normal business hours
South Kingstown: Senior Center; Fri: Normal business hours
South Kingstown: Public Libraries; Fri: Normal business hours
Armand Randolph, a spokesman for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency has this advice for dealing with the Arctic blast headed our way: “to be prepared stay safe, make sure you have enough resources available for the extreme cold and make sure you also talk to your neighbors, said Randolph, “friends, elderly to make sure they’re OK.”
The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency is advising Rhode Islanders to keep a blanket and non-perishable food in their car during this cold snap. They also recommend sealing any gaps in doors and windows.
Click here to find out more about closings around the state:
Digging Out From the Snow
Paul Caminero spent Friday morning shoveling snow in downtown Providence. And with temperatures in the single digits he’s doing what he can to keep warm, “I’ve basically thrown on everything I can. I’ve got on two pairs of pants, gloves, North Face jacket, hoodie.”
Waiting for a bus in downtown Providence, Bob Fournier said the weather doesn’t bother him, “I’m from Boston and I’ve lived there for the last 20 years, so I was there for the blizzard of 78 and the blizzard of 98 and this ain’t nothin’ for me.”
Serve Rhode Island, a service organization in the state is looking for volunteers to help elderly and disabled residents remove the ice and snow.
Interested parties can sign up at serverhodeisland.org
Staying Safe While Digging Out
Rhode Island Hospitals are seeing storm-related injuries come into its emergency room. The Miriam Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital and Hasbro Children’s hospital report 62 injuries from 9:00 am Thursday to 9:00 am Friday. That includes 31 slips and falls, seven shovel-related back injuries and four heart attacks.
Trains, Planes and Automobiles
Lt. Michael Rosa said the Rhode Island State Police will be stepping up their presence on the state’s roads and highways. “We will issue citations for conditions requiring reduced speed if they’re driving faster than they should, but our main goal is just to maintain safety,” said Rosa. “The main thing is if they don’t have to be on the road please don’t be on the road.”
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority on Friday has detoured services on a dozen or so routes. The numbers are dropping as the roads clear. For information on RIPTA services, call 781-9400 or visit the detour section of the website ripta.com.
Amtrak has announced that for Friday January 3rd, Acela and Northeast Regional trains are operating but they will make fewer runs along the northeast corridor.
TF Green Airport reports a number of cancelled flights on its website, and is urging travelers to check with their carriers.
National Grid Reports Few Without Power
National Grid is reporting very few outages Friday morning, and spokesman David Graves said it’s unlikely that the light, fluffy snow expected to fall across region will pull down power lines, but the high winds expected with the storm could cause outages. He notes that the cause of power outages during the storm that hit before Christmas were all caused by drivers hitting utility poles.
Customers can get text alerts and updates by texting STORM to NGRD (64743) or following National Grid's outage page.
Residents Across Rhode Island Prepare for the Storm
Storm preparations are underway across Rhode Island. Gas station owner Hitesh Mehta said his is the only convenience shop for six miles on the Foster-Glocester border. But he’s ready for the rush. “I just gassed up, just this morning, I gassed up for the storm. Filled up with milk and bread and everything," said Mehta. "I’m all out of eggs right now, though, and bread, so I have to get another load of that.”
Mehta said he lives within walking distance of his station, so he’ll stay open as late as necessary to serve customers.
Pawtucket resident Joe Caçador has landed work plowing streets. Before fueling up at the gas station, he picked up more sand for his business. “When the snow comes, we’ll be prepared. It does take a lot of preparation to get it done,” he said. “So hopefully it won’t be too bad out that, that we’ll be able to drive from one place to the other without any problems, you know.”
Advocates Urge Pet Owners To Keep Animals Indoors
Advocates are urging pet owners to provide their animals with adequate shelter, food, and water throughout the winter storm. PETA spokeswoman Ashley Palmer says it’s common sense, but the reminder could save a pet’s life.
“Every winter we hear about dogs who have frozen to death due to terrible storms. And even if cold temperatures don’t kill an animal, that doesn’t mean they’re comfortable or happy being outside.”
Palmer says that if animals must stay outside, like cows or horses, they should still be given plenty of extra food and water to account for the additional calories they’re burning because of the cold.