Although the latest round of ice and snow wasn't as bad as expected Tuesday, forecasters are warning of dangerously cold temperatures and wind chills below zero Wednesday.
The low early Wednesday is expected to be 11 degrees, with a wind chill of 9 below zero. Wednesday's high is only forecast to be 16 degrees, with wind chills staying below zero, and the overnight low reaching single digits.
Officials with City Rescue Mission said the group's emergency shelters are preparing to house more people.
The group began stocking its men's and women's emergency shelters with extra blankets and mats to provide space for more people than its 640 beds usually accommodate.
Lara O'Leary, spokeswoman for the Emergency Medical Services Authority, said any members of the homeless population sleeping outside will be at serious risk.
“You can't put on enough layers when you are sleeping outside in that cold,” she said.
“There really is no way you can stay outside and not feel some effect from the cold weather from frostbite to hypothermia,” she said.
O'Leary said it's not just the homeless at risk. Anyone who spends time outside in wind chills below zero needs to be careful.
“Cold temperatures can be deadly, and people often underestimate how dangerous it is,” O'Leary said. “It takes its toll on a wide variety of people, everyone from the elderly to the young ones who might be waiting for the bus in the morning.”
Emergency Medical Services Authority Clinical Director Jim Linham said a short trip to the mailbox or the grocery store can become an ordeal, especially with ice and snow on the ground.
“You slip on the ice or your car breaks down, and you don't have the proper clothing or protections, and that's where we see the problems,” Linham said. “We urge people to be very cautious. Wear breathable layers, preferably cotton or wool.”