Record-breaking South Sound cold spell to continue into weekend

Homeless shelters open 24 hours, stock up on supplies to meet greater demand

Staff writerDecember 5, 2013 

After a light dusting of snow in Olympia early Friday morning, low temperatures will flirt with single digits this weekend as Mother Nature continues to chill the South Sound.

TAMMY MCGEE — The Olympian

South Sound residents prepared for another night of potential record-breaking cold Thursday with no sign things would warm up over the weekend.

Low temperatures were projected to drop to 24 degrees Thursday night in Tacoma, according to data from the National Weather Service.

Friday is expected to be even colder, with temperatures projected to fall to 19 degrees. That would match the record-low temperature for Dec. 6, recorded at Sea-Tac Airport in 1956.

As of Thursday, the cold snap hadn’t caused a rise in cases of hypothermia, frostbite or other-cold related ailments at major Tacoma-area hospitals, spokesmen for Franciscan Health System and MultiCare Health System said.

But local homeless services were preparing for an influx of people looking to escape the cold.

Homeless shelters in Pierce County have opened their doors 24-hours a day while temperatures are below 34 degrees, wrote Sheri Badger, spokeswoman for Pierce County Emergency Management, in an email Friday. The shelters also have increased their capacity; the county’s emergency management department recently supplied the Tacoma Rescue Mission with 40 extra cots, Badger wrote.

In Puyallup, organizers of the Freezing Nights program are making sure they have extra food and supplies ready to prepare for an uptick in demand, said Amy Schweim, a co-coordinator of the program at Immanuel Lutheran Church. The Freezing Nights program picks up homeless adults nightly and offers them food and shelter at one of several local churches.

While Schweim said the number of people choosing to use the program so far this week hasn’t been higher than last week, organizers expect that low temperatures Friday and over the weekend will draw more people. The National Weather Service is forecasting low temperatures of 18 degrees Saturday and 19 degrees Sunday in Tacoma.

“We’re making sure we have lots of extra scarves, hats and mittens, and clothes on hand that can be layered that we can give away to the homeless,” Schweim said Friday. “All those things that just help keep people warm.”

The nightly pickup location for Freezing Nights in Puyallup is just off East Main Avenue and 9th Street Southeast, near the Puyallup Riverwalk, Schweim said. Adults seeking shelter should arrive by 6:30 p.m.

Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209

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