Winter already? A big dip in temperatures this week will stir safety preparations

A sharp turn to winter-like temperatures expected this weekend will continue to frustrate those who feel robbed of their usual fall weather and serve as a reminder that important winter preparations are needed.

Temperatures in the low 20s after midnight Friday will rise only to the mid-30s on Saturday. That’s about 20 degrees below normal, said Storm Center 7 meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs.

The drop happens heading into one of the last weekends for traditional fall activities, which have been hampered in the last month because of weather.

“It’s been a challenging year for sure,” said Dan Young, co-owner of Young’s Jersey Dairy in Yellow Springs, which holds activities throughout the fall. “It seems like weekends were impacted more than weekdays.”

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Heating and cooling companies saw an uptick in calls this week for furnace checks and services as safety preparations are happening throughout the region. The Ohio Department of Transportation is performing checks this week on its 1,629 trucks ahead of their service in treating roads this winter.

That turn to winter conditions happens at different points of the year, so officials and homeowners should be ready, experts said.

“Sometimes it is December, but this year it is now,” said Jay Moran, vice president of A-Abel, which performs HVAC, electrical and plumbing services in the region.

Warmer-than-usual days and rainy weekends recently impacted outdoor destinations such as Young’s Dairy, which typically enjoys brisk business in the fall, Young said. The farm’s haunted wagon ride was shut down two of the 10 nights, because of gusty winds one weekend and rain the next.

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Homeowners have also turned on furnaces during the past few weeks, and the thermostats will get a boost this week.

“As the nights get cold, the furnaces are being called to duty. Often the system doesn’t fire up due to old filters or the need for a cleaning and tune up,” Moran said.

Temperatures have fluctuated throughout the year. Records were set for two consecutive February days in the 70s and five days of measureable snow in April. Weather records won’t be challenged this weekend, but the Miami Valley could see the season’s first snowflakes.

“A storm system that comes out of the Rockies and through the plains is going to bring us the chances for rain and perhaps some light snowfall,” Vrydaghs said. “It should be brief enough that we’re not talking accumulation, but certainly it’s an indication of the cold air that comes in. As the cold air is reinforced (this) evening into Saturday we could see a few flurries around.”

Looking ahead, a seemingly short autumn doesn’t necessarily herald a mean winter, meteorologists said. The long-range forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicates this winter will be similar to 2014-15, when the El Nino pattern led to mild temperatures and low snowfall totals.

“We are looking at this pattern being very similar to a pattern that we had in November of 2014. That year, there was a drastic change to cold. We finished that month with four inches of snow,” Vrydaghs said.

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