Meanwhile: NWS Says 'Bomb Cyclone' Will Developing In The U.S. Southeast

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — A balmy day in the 20s was only a slight relief on Wednesday, but cocooning against the bitter chill of winter will return with a vengeance Thursday and into the weekend.

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In this Arctic blast that started during the Christmas holiday, paramedics and emergency rooms have seen a growing number of cold-related maladies.

“Lots of falls, lots of slips on ice, lots of vehicle accidents,” said Allegheny General Emergency Director Dr. Ben Lawner.

Most of us just adapt in layers, but Dr. Lawner says “elderly patients are more vulnerable because they are not able to compensate as fast.”

And your favorite hot swill, that just seems right in this weather, it actually might be doing more harm by causing dehydration.

“You have to be careful of too much coffee intake because that can dehydrate you,” said Dr. Lawner. “So, if you’re dehydrated sometimes that can make your heart rate a little bit too fast, so you may be more likely to pass out, to lose consciousness, so it enables your body to respond more appropriately to stress.”

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Temperature stress is turning out to be a real issue for cell phones, too.

“The other day I went to make a phone call, I couldn’t even hit the icon to make a phone call, it just all froze up, the whole phone,” said Matt Lander, of Pleasant Hills.

Turns out, lithium ion batteries don’t like below freezing temperatures, and they’re in all sorts of our electronic gizmos. iPhones are particularly susceptible.

“If it’s near your body, it will keep the phone working. Using Bluetooth earpieces also help with the phone not being exposed to the cold,” said Connor Olson, of Verizon.

He also advises against carrying your phone in a purse or briefcase.

“The only thing is carrying your phone in the purse is not going to have any heat next to it,” Olson said.

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And never leave your phone in a car overnight.

The temperature stress on water mains primarily is causing changes in the soil around the pipes.

“When that happens it puts external pressure on the pipe, that the pipes were not designed to deal with,” said Robert Weimar, the interim executive director of the Pittsburgh Water & Sewer Authority.

And pop goes the aging weaknesses.

“We’ve been averaging 20 to 30 a week,” Weimar says. “You have so many breaks, you can’t do them all at once, so you prioritize.”

CBS’s Meg Oliver Reports:

Meanwhile, people along the East Coast are preparing for a winter storm. KDKA’s Chief Meteorologist Jeff Verszyla says it will have no impacts on Western Pennsylvania as it is a strictly coastal system.

The National Weather Service says the storm, developing the U.S. Southeast coast, will probably intensify so rapidly that it will qualify as a “bomb cyclone.”

The “bomb cyclone” should dump 8 inches to a foot of snow on the Boston area Thursday and at least half a foot of snow in the New York City region.

Still, meteorologists say most of the storm’s fierce hurricane-force winds should stay out to sea until it nears Cape Cod, Maine and Canada. Weather Prediction Center lead forecaster Bob Oravec says the fast-moving system can bring 70 mph wind gusts to coastal New England.

Meteorologists say perhaps the worst effects could be bitter subzero cold – chillier than the frigid past couple weeks.

The weather service has issued blizzard warnings for the coast from parts of Rhode Island to Maine, but Oravec expects the blizzard warnings could be extended as far south as parts of New York.

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