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Wicked cold is about to blast Vermont. Here's how you can prepare

A photo of large icicles hanging off a yellow house above a red roof and next to a window reflecting blue in strong sunlight. There are shadows of the icicles and tree limbs on the yellow siding of the house.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Icicles form on a house in Jericho, Vermont on Tuesday, Jan. 31. Extreme cold is forecast to blast Vermont on Friday and Saturday this week.

A dangerous cold snap is coming our way later this week after unseasonably warm weather for much of winter.

From Thursday night heading into the weekend, temperatures will drop to roughly 0 degrees or below around much of Vermont. Places like Rutland, St. Johnsbury, and Newport are expected to feel windchill approaching the negative 40s.

Stay up to date on the latest forecast withEye on the Sky.

Meteorologist Scott Whittier with the National Weather Service says Vermonters should stay inside as much they can.

"When you're talking observed temperatures of 10 to 20 below zero and windchills of 20 to 40 below zero, that is dangerous, and that is substantial no matter how seasoned you may be," Whittier said. "You need to pay attention and take the proper precautions.”

If you have to go outside, Whittier says to:

  • Make it brief
  • Wear layers
  • Cover all extremities

Mark Bosma with Vermont Emergency Management also notes that if you need to drive anywhere, it's best to bring some extra blankets.
"It's a good idea all winter to have a couple of blankets in the car in case you get stuck somewhere due to engine failure or a minor accident," he said. "And during a cold streak like we're going to have this weekend, that's especially important.”

Keep the animals warm, too

For your furry friends, state veterinarian Dr. Kristin Haas says to monitor dogs or cats when they’re outside, and keep them indoors as much as possible, because they're susceptible to hypothermia and frostbite, too.

“Where they usually get that can be on their ears or tips of noses or muzzles — places where there is more exposure to the wind and the temperatures,” Haas said.

Check out an up-to-date list of warming centers and cold weather overnight shelters from the Department of Public Safety

If you're outside and see your dog or cat shivering, acting tired or weak, trying to burrow or get under cover, that’s a good indication they’re too cold.

Haas says if you can’t bring a pet in your home for some reason, keep them in a shelter out of the wind that has a floor elevated off the ground, thick, dry bedding, and access to clean, fresh, unfrozen water.

And if you don’t have a reliable source of heat, make an emergency plan that includes your pets.

A photo of a dog and a man on a dirt road with snow covering either side.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Tom Moore and Buddy the dog enjoy some afternoon sun along Stevensville Road in Underhill on Tuesday, Jan. 31. State officials recommend limiting pets' time outside during the extreme cold forecast to hit Vermont at the end of this week.

As for livestock, Haas has some pointers:

  • Increase the roughage your animals eat (like hay).
  • Don't lock up your animals in a space with no air flow — make sure they can get outside.
  • Ensure they have water that's above freezing to prevent dehydration. (She suggests using a tank heater.)

What to do about heating

Bosma says Vermonters should figure out now whether they have enough heating fuel to stay warm, and check on neighbors and family members, too.

It's also important to make sure vents aren't blocked by snow or other objects, so that carbon monoxide can't come back inside the home.

Meteorologist Scott Whittier says if you do lose heat: "Do not use generators inside any structure, whether it's the home or the garage. Don't use cooking appliances as a source of heat, because in both situations, you have to worry about carbon monoxide poisoning.”

If you decide to use portable heaters, Whittier says to keep them away from anything that could be flammable.

And if you need a warm place to stay, you can check with your town officials or call 211 to learn more about warming shelters.

Many of the state’s warming shelters can accommodate pets, but call ahead of time to make arrangements, and be sure to pack a leash, food, medication, and a crate or cage if you have it.

How to keep your kids entertained

If you're feeling the chill this weekend and you've got young people hunkering down with you, why not check out our kids podcast, But Why?

Here are three good episodes to get you started on a listening binge:

A photo of three snowmen. The snow is white and blue with shadows.
Elodie Reed
Vermont Public
Building snowpeople outside is an activity best reserved for after this weekend's forecasted extreme cold departs Vermont.

  • Ice Harvesting. This weather may not be great for outdoor activities, but it's excellent for helping the ice to thicken on Squam Lake in New Hampshire, where ice is still harvested the old-fashioned way. Learn about how people used to keep food cold before refrigerators were invented in this episode.
  • Stay in the cold-weather spirit with this episode that explores how snow is made, why it's white, and how every snowflake can possibly be different. Plus, we visit the lab at Burton to discover why snowboards look like skateboards!
  • If hunkering down with a movie and some popcorn is more your style, here's an episode that will help you better understand the magic of that beloved snack. In this "popcorn episode," you'll get to learn other cool things, too, like how zippers work, why rabbits change color in winter, and whether watching too much TV (on a frigid winter weekend perhaps?) will really fry your brain.

Looking for more activities to enjoy in the great indoors?

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Corrected: February 3, 2023 at 8:16 AM EST
This story has been updated with a correct spelling of the word "roughage."
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