Cold affecting man and machine in Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cold affecting man and machine in Dubuque


DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Skiing, skin and trucks all face problems in the extreme cold.

The thought of braving the weather to hit the ski hills is not very uplifting, for some.

"We lost about 250 people who did cancel for today, but they did reschedule, so that's really great," Sundown Mountain Resort general manager Mark Dietz said Friday.

15 to 35 degrees is the temperature range he said he sees most people preferring when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. He said he's glad the cold snap is supposed to let up in time for the weekend crowd.

Those who have come out on these chilly few days, however, have taken advantage of the great indoors, Dietz said.

"They come out and make three or four runs, come in and get some hot chocolate or gather with their friends and warm up by the fireplace, and back out again for a few more runs," Dietz said.

Of course, it's not the experienced skiers and snowboarders Dietz worries about.

"We do get concerned with those folks who just come out and try it for the first time. We want to make sure they do have proper clothing," he said. "Our ski patrol is trained to keep an eye out for frostbite, you know, the white spots you've always heard about."

The warning signs of frostbite may be subtle.

"People try to ignore the pain, and then there's some numbness that sets in, and that's often misperceived as improvement," Dr. Douglas Butzier said at Dubuque Mercy Medical Center. He said exposed skin can then turn from white to red.

"What people should avoid in a situation like that is trying to rapidly warm their fingertips that they burn them," he said. "It's fine to put your hands under warm sink water, but you need to be careful that it's not scalding."

Skin isn't the only thing at risk.

Larry Steffes is a Wisconsin farmer moving grain to Dyersville. He said a nearly-empty diesel gas tank gathers condensation and creates problems in this weather when that extra moisture freezes.

He said the diesel fuel "turns into a gel-like form, and therefore it doesn't flow like diesel fuel should flow," which can shut a truck down.

As a farmer, however, he said he doesn't necessarily mind the cold.

"That frost down, into the ground, creates a better seed environment for the following year, so the cold weather is not all bad," Steffes said.

However, the cold can also hurt a truck driver's profit. One driver at the Dubuque rest stop said the crane he uses to unload his truck freezes and stops working in such cold temperatures. Any extra time and money he has to spend unloading the truck for his contractor, comes out of his own pockets.

Online Reporter Becca Habegger

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