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‘Polar vortex’ puts area in deep freeze

<p>Dressed for the weather: Paris Police Officer Tony Howard was dressed for the weather Monday. A polar vortex descended over the area, bringing with it bitterly cold weather with lows dipping into the single digits and wind chill readings below zero.</p>

Dressed for the weather: Paris Police Officer Tony Howard was dressed for the weather Monday. A polar vortex descended over the area, bringing with it bitterly cold weather with lows dipping into the single digits and wind chill readings below zero.

Paris and Logan County are in the middle of a week that is seeing some wild swings in the weather.

The week began Sunday with a high of 54 degrees and the arrival of cold front, called a polar vortex by meteorologists, that put the county in a very deep freeze with Monday highs in the 20s and lows reaching 10 degrees and lower at higher elevations like Mount Magazine State Park. As the Paris area was waking up Monday, the low was 10 degrees. At the top of Mount Magazine, it was one below.

Winds from the north sent wind chill readings below zero and the National Weather Service had the county in a wind chill advisory Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday morning.

The front moved out of the area Tuesday and temperatures rose to the lower 40s. Highs are expected to reach the upper 50s by this weekend. There’s also a chance of rain for the remainder of the week.

Schools in the county opened Monday after the long holiday break but superintendents said children and teachers would not be going outside much because of the frigid weather.

“There will be no outside activities today,” said County Line School Superintendent Joan Jones. “We also told our bus drivers to be patient because we didn’t expect many kids to be at the bus stops until the buses showed up.”

Scranton School Superintendent Dr. Jim Bridges said his district’s buses were working normally Monday and that the kids stayed inside as much as possible.

Paris School Superintendent Wayne Fawcett said his employees began preparing for the cold weather last week.

“Our heating units were checked Saturday in all the buildings to make sure they were working normally,” Fawcett said. “We had been checking the buildings and the buses last week to make sure everything was fine.”

Fawcett added that kids were in the school buildings Monday, even for recess.

None of the three school superintendents said they thought about cancelling classes because of the cold weather.

As cold as it was Sunday and Monday, it could have been worse. As late as last Saturday morning, the National Weather Service was predicting the area would get between one and three inches of winter precipitation Sunday. Instead, there were only trace amounts of snow and ice seen in the county Sunday.

Mount Magazine State Park Superintendent Becky Bariola said the park got some ice Sunday and it was confined mainly to tree limbs.

The lows Sunday and Monday were the lowest temperatures recorded in the county since the winter of 2000, which featured an ice storm that froze the area for two weeks.

Sunday and Monday lows were also a radical departure from the norm. The average high in January in Paris is 49 and the average low is 29 with the lowest recorded temperature being minus six.

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