|Extreme cold increasing propane shortage|
|Friday, January 24, 2014 10:00 PM|
BY LINDSAY MCCOY
VAN WERT - The propane shortage around Ohio continues with more and more counties reporting shortages. The State of Energy Emergency issued by Ohio Governor John Kasich has helped bring more shipments into the area, but long-term it is unknown if shipments can continue.
“We continue to ask people to conserve and the best way to do that is to also use an alternative heat source such as space heaters,” said Van Wert County Emergency Management Director Rick McCoy. “Using alternative energy will also help with a rising issue, the price of propane.”
The price of propane has doubled and is now running over $4.50 this week and is expected to spill over $5 next week. While it has not yet been seen locally, some companies around Ohio are now requiring cash-in-hand to fill their propane tanks.
Most local companies are still rationing fuel and are not filling tanks completely full. Many Van Wert County shipments are now coming from as far as Mississippi.
“The bitter cold arctic systems that continue to plague our area are expected to continue into February and will put a real dent in propane usage,” noted McCoy. “These temperatures require heavy fuel usage to keep homes warm. I am again stressing the use of additional heating methods.”
The overnight snow received Friday evening in combination with winds of 30-35 mph during the day Saturday will continue to cause blowing and drifting problems throughout the weekend. Additional snow is expected Sunday before the next big polar outbreak enters the area on Monday.
Monday and Tuesday, Van Wert County and surrounding areas will see similar temperatures to the deep freeze during the first week of January with highs during the day around zero degrees and lows at night approaching 13-15 degrees below zero.
Wind chills will again be 25-30 degrees below zero. McCoy remarked that the only difference between this cold outbreak is that it will not be accompanied by heavy snow. Hopefully power outages will not occur, but if they do and it would be necessary to open a shelter, information would be relayed through local newspaper and WERT Radio at the top of the hour.
The National Climate Prediction Center is forecasting temperatures well below normal through at least Feb. 5. As always, McCoy cautions people to protect themselves against frostbite by covering skin when exposed to the elements for even a short period of time. Animals and pets will also need special attention from this cold. Cupboards should be left open and water from faucets should be left dripping.