The National Weather Service on Monday issued a Wind Chill Advisory that begins just after midnight for Falls Church and the surrounding region.
The Wind Chill Advisory remains in effect Tuesday from 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. Wind chills will be 5 to 10 degrees below zero. Temperatures will be in the single digits to lower teens late tonight into early Tuesday morning.
Wind gusts will be up to 30 MPH. Low wind chills may lead to hypothermia or frost bite on exposed skin.
A Wind Chill Advisory means that very cold air and strong winds will combine to generate low wind chills. This will lead to hypothermia if precautions are not taken. If you must venture outdoors, make sure you wear a hat and gloves.
Cold can also impact the morning commute if your car doesn't start. Last week, Fairfax County Public Schools experienced delays when 150 or 10 percent of its fleet of buses wouldn't start because of the cold.
When it gets this cold, here's what you can do to prepare your vehicle.
With the extreme cold, a predicted -10 degree wind chill on Tuesday, cold weather can adversely affect automobiles in a number of ways and can leave motorists stranded, advises AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Keep a eye on your car's warning lights. If you ignore them, they can warp your engine, ruin your motor, and leave you with exorbitant repair bills. During the bout of extremely cold weather, motorists should keep a keen eye on the instrument panel and a careful watch on all the warning lights: the oil pressure light, the engine temperature light, the charging system light, and the check engine light.
“Warning lights are there for a reason—to let us know something is wrong with our vehicle,” said John B. Townsend II, AAA Mid-Atlantic’s Manager of Public and Government Affairs. “In some cases, ignoring a warning light can quickly result in catastrophic damage to your car’s engine, so it’s important to know what each light means and what you should do if it comes on while driving.”
For example, the engine temperature light (usually a thermometer symbol or the word “TEMP”) comes on when the engine temperature has exceeded the safe maximum. If the increase in temperature is not stopped, major engine damage or catastrophic failure will result. While the engine temperature light also indicates the potential for severe engine damage, it normally gives you a little more time to take action before that occurs.
If there are any signs of a cooling system leak, such as steam or liquid coolant coming from under the hood, pull off the road at the earliest safe opportunity, shut off the engine, and call AAA for assistance. Boiling coolant can cause severe burns, so be careful when opening the hood in the presence of steam, and never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.
If there is no evidence of a cooling system leak, the overheating may have resulted from a temporary overload of the cooling system. This can sometimes occur in hot weather when the vehicle is heavily loaded or pulling a trailer. To help lower the engine temperature: reduce vehicle speed, turn off the air conditioning, roll down the windows, set the heater to the full hot position and operate the blower motor on its highest setting. If the warning light does not go out within a couple miles, pull off the road at the first safe opportunity and allow the engine to cool while idling. If the temperature warning light still does not go off after a couple of minutes, shut off the engine and call for assistance.
In addition to draining your battery, the extreme temps can cause your engine to lose its vitality and your motor oil to lose its viscosity and cause the oil pressure to drop. What’s more, tire pressure can drop considerably, batteries become less effective, engine belts lose a certain amount of flexibility and hoses undergo stress.
Winter is tough on batteries, for two main reasons, cautions AAA Mid-Atlantic. The engines are far harder to turn over because the oil inside them has thickened. This demands much more current from a battery and making it more difficult is that the battery cannot produce its normal amount of energy because of the cold. The chemical reactions that generate electricity are slower at lower temperatures.
The night before a big chill:
- Protect your vehicle from the elements. Park it inside your garage.
- If you do not have a garage, try to park your car in a place that is protected from the wind.
- Make sure to fill up your gas tank at least half way to avoid fuel line freeze-up.
- Be sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Spray WD-40 or another general purpose lubricant into key holes to prevent frozen locks.
- Be sure to prepare a roadside emergency kit consisting of no less than a bag of abrasive material (sand, salt or cat litter), a small snow shovel and snow brush, traction mats, a flashlight with fresh batteries, ice-thawing window-washing solvent, gloves or mittens, an ice scraper, a cloth or paper towels, booster cables, a blanket, warning flares or triangles, a fully-charged cellular phone with emergency numbers and non-perishable food/snack items.
- DO NOT wash your car, especially if it is going to sit outside.
If you encounter frozen lock:
- Spray WD-40 or another de-icing fluid from a warm can directly into the lock.
- Cup your hands together and blow warm air directly into the key holes.
- DO NOT force a key or other instrument into the lock.
- NEVER pour hot water on or into a frozen lock.
Windshield wipers, washer reservoir and vehicle exterior:
Clean windows offer optimal visibility so obviously, wiper blades that streak the windshield should be replaced. The washer reservoir bottle should be filled with an antifreeze washer solvent. To prevent damage to your wiper blades or wiper motor, be sure the wipers are free of ice and snow and turned off before starting the engine. Additionally, when warming your vehicle up, never do so in an enclosed area and never leave a vehicle unattended with the engine running.
Navigating Washington metro area roadways during the winter months can be hazardous so motorists should exercise caution to help maintain safety for themselves and their passengers, other drivers and even roadside workers. Check out these tips and additional information on driving in winter conditions in the online AAA brochure How to Go on Ice and Snow.