Frigid Temps Bring Risk For Frostbite & Hypothermia - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Frigid Temps Bring Risk For Frostbite & Hypothermia

Some serious winter weather has arrived in Big Sky Country, but the record-breaking effects are being felt across the region.

"This is a large scale cold air outbreak.  We're feeling the impacts from California all the way into Montana where we did have those -25 to even as cold as -32 degree temperatures early this morning," said Paul Nutter, a National Weather Service Meteorologist.

It's so cold here in Central Montana that when we take some boiling water that's ready to evaporate and toss it into the air, it becomes a cloud.

"Extreme environmental hazards, such as cold weather, can lead to serious medical problems.  Two of the ones we face frequently are hypothermia and frostbite.  They can obviously occur anytime it gets this cold outside," said Adam Smith, a Physician Assistant with Benefis Health Systems.

Frostbite can lead to the loss of extremities in serious cases and can occur very quickly.

"If individuals are caught outside in cold temperatures like those extremes, we can certainly start getting effects from frostbite in a very short amount of time…and so, at a temperature of -30 to -40, you can get frostbite, that means frozen skin, in about ten minutes, which is a typical timeframe, so if you're going to be outside for more than ten minutes, you certainly need to be prepared and have every skin surface covered," said Nutter.

If you can avoid the fast impacts of frostbite, hypothermia may get you in the long-run.

"Hypothermia is more of your core body temperature.  It occurs when you're core body temperature gets below approximately 95 degree or less.  Severe hypothermia is more around 82 degrees," said Smith.

Both of these conditions are serious but avoidable, so you'll want to take precautions when spending time outside at an event like the Christmas Stroll tomorrow night.

"Again, if you're out for the Christmas Stroll, dash between the shops and businesses in the downtown area and just try to stay as warm as you can while you're out there," said Nutter.

"Definitely, if you're going to be outside, you should be avoiding alcohol.  Alcohol impairs your judgment and can make you much more prone to hypothermia and frostbite.  Beyond that, you really should be bundling up.  Make so you're well hydrated, keeping your water levels up helps keep you warm, and if you have any signs of shivering or being cold, you need to find a warmer environment," said Smith.

We're forecasting warmer temperatures by the middle of next week, but until then, stay warm and stay safe.

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