Subzero temps expected to return

By: 

Leader Staff

After a brief respite this weekend from chilling temperatures that have lingered for most of the month, another dangerous cold snap is expected to settle in starting Sunday night.

“We would advise people to be careful out on the roads,” Shawano Police Capt. Jeff Heffernon said.

Subzero overnight lows are forecast to linger through New Year’s Eve, adding to the reasons drivers should be especially cautious that particular night if they plan to indulge in holiday revelry.

“We would also, of course, advise people not to drink and drive,” Heffernon said.

Police expect to have an extra patrol on the streets late Tuesday and early Wednesday to discourage drunken driving.

Temperatures are expected to drop to 10 degrees below zero overnight Sunday and 12 below zero overnight Monday. New Year’s Eve lows are forecast at 11 below zero. Those forecasts do not include the likely wind chills.

The high temperature Monday through Wednesday is expected to be only 4 degrees.

The chronic cold weather could put a strain on those who require assistance with their heating bills.

According to the Shawano County Social Services Department, 920 households applied and were processed for energy assistance as of Friday, compared to 813 by this time last year.

According to the department, 41 percent of those who received energy assistance so far this year were elderly, 35 percent were disabled and 17 percent were households with children age 5 or younger.

Funding comes from the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides assistance for heating costs, electric costs and energy crisis situations.

WHEAP assistance is a one-time payment during the heating season, running from Oct. 1 to May 15. The funding pays a portion of the heating costs, but the payment is not intended to cover the entire cost of heating a residence.

The average payment to households in the county this year was $524. If this season’s persistent cold continues, it could be difficult for some households to stretch that amount through the winter.

“That money could run out,” said Sarah Bartz, economic support supervisor in the Social Services Department.

However, if that happens, there is crisis assistance available for households that qualify.

Extreme cold has lingered on and off for most of the month, first settling in on Dec. 6 and causing the downtown Santa Parade in Shawano that day to be postponed for the first time in its 19-year history.