The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

January 10, 2014

Major weather swings can be harmful to our physical, mental health

PITTSBURGH — Dramatic swings in temperature this week help us to realize why weather can make us sicker and crazier.

Biometeorology -- the study of weather's impact on living organisms including humans -- uses different terminology but concludes that weather itself, but specifically dramatic shifts in weather, can impact physical and even mental health.

The good health news? Experiencing such horrible stretches of weather better prepares us for what National Weather Service meteorologist Lee Hendricks said is a strong likelihood of another cold snap this winter. The so-called polar vortex, blamed for the sub-zero temperatures, could send us into another mental and physical vortex before spring.

"It's a huge swing physiologically," Jennifer Vanos, a biometeorologist and assistant professor of atmospheric science at Texas Tech University, said about Tuesday's record low of minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit sandwiched by unseasonable highs in the 50s. "People were not prepared. Physiologically, adapting is a tough thing to do when you are used to certain weather day after day."

But if another cold snap occurs, "people will be prepared," she said, especially for those 20 and under who never experienced such sub-zero temperatures. "They will know what to do, how to dress, and it won't be as stressful."

Long airplane rides usually are necessary for such swings in temperature. It's like flying round trip from Myrtle Beach, S.C., to the Yukon.

The Associated Press reported 21 deaths nationwide from the cold snap, most in the Midwest.

The normal high locally for early January is 36 degrees with a low of 21. In the week ending Saturday, if the forecasted high of 52 holds true, the region will have experienced a 61-degree swing. Last Sunday alone saw a temperature swing of 57 degrees -- 50 to minus 7, Mr. Hendricks said.

Along with potential dangers of extremely low temperatures, including hypothermia, frostbite and blood vessel constriction leading to heart attacks, quick shifts in barometric pressure, high or low, represents an unsuspected health villain.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • amd 31 New filtration system targets mine water

    Orange stones surround a black plastic discharge pipe at the Rock Tunnel abandoned mine drainage site.
    There is a rusty tint to some nearby water and mud, too.
    Soon, though, a new filtration system, consisting of shallow vegetative wetlands, a settling basin, concrete trough, buried limestone and aeration component, is expected to help return those elements back to their natural appearances.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Richland to weigh speed study

    A group of Theatre Drive residents has convinced Richland Township’s supervisors to look into the costs of a special traffic study weighing whether their residential neighborhood’s current 35 mph speed limit should be reduced.

    July 30, 2014

  • Border battle lingers: Adams Twp. wants court to become involved

    Adams Township officials are asking the Cambria County court to once again become involved in its long-running boundary line dispute with Richland Township.

    July 30, 2014

  • FRANK BURNS 31 Officials urge creation of crime watch groups

    State Rep. Frank Burns told the crowd about the night his life changed forever.
    After leaving a AAABA game, the then-16-year-old Burns was surrounded by three males, “dancing” around him like boxers and taunting him.
    They attacked and he was on the ground. He took a powerful kick to the face.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Injured officer back on duty

    Two people were injured in a three-car accident Tuesday evening when a truck failed to yield to a Johnstown police officer who was rushing to assist another patrol car, police said.

    July 30, 2014

  • Grimm, Michael Child rapist to report to jail Monday; medical concern cited

    A Johnstown man set to pick a jury today on charges he sexually abused two boys, entered a guilty plea in Cambria County court Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • LIFT JOHNSTOWN ‘They got it done’: Lift Johnstown recognizes pair for trailhead work

    Rob McCombie and Steve Coy showed up Wednesday at a Path of the Flood Trail spur in East Conemaugh dressed like they were ready to get to work.
    Instead, a group of community advocates were waiting there to thank them for the hard work they’ve already put in.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Local News in Brief | Philly man arrested for selling heroin

    July 30, 2014

  • Conemaugh Valley board tackles security, pupils’ instruction time

    The Conemaugh Valley school board on Wednesday agreed to improve security at the high school and increase instructional time and add art classes at the elementary school.

    July 30, 2014

  • Wine tasting, picnic will aid animals

    Briar Valley Winery and Bedford County Humane Society are hosting Yappy Hour 2014 at the vineyard grounds on Stein Road in Everett.

    July 30, 2014


What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads