The Sacramento region was on track to close out 2014 with one of the coldest nights of the year, with an overnight low of 29 degrees forecast for downtown Sacramento.
A low of 28 degrees was expected at Sacramento’s Executive Airport, and lows in the mid-20s were possible in areas like Lincoln and Folsom, said Karl Swanberg, a forecaster with the National Weather Service.
The forecast for below-freezing temperatures prompted the opening of warming centers for people seeking refuge from the cold in Sacramento and Elk Grove on Tuesday night, and a center opened in Galt on Wednesday night. The criteria for opening the centers are extreme cold/freeze warnings for three days accompanied by night temperatures of 32 degrees or less.
The National Weather Service issued a freeze warning effective from midnight Wednesday through noon Friday.
The Sacramento warming center in Southside Park, 2107 Sixth St., is expected to be open from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Friday night. Operated by the city and county’s offices of emergency services, the center has seating capacity for about 50 people, but no beds. Guests are provided with blankets, which they can keep, as well as light snacks. In addition, the city’s Animal Services supplies 10 kennels for larger dogs, and small carriers for smaller animals, and an area is set aside for pets of people using the warming center.
Those seeking night-time shelter at the Southside Park center can board a van to Loaves & Fishes in the morning when the center closes, said Steve Cantelme, chief of the county’s Office of Emergency Services.
Cantelme said nine people – eight men and one woman – spent Tuesday night at the Southside Park center. Several were checking in shortly after the doors opened Wednesday night.
Michelle Cooper, 45, said she has been homeless for seven years and would have been spending the night outdoors Wednesday had it not been for the warming center. She learned about it from staff members at Loaves & Fishes and Maryhouse, where she spends her days. Cooper said she had been trying to participate in the Winter Sanctuary program, in which area churches provide overnight shelter on a rotating basis, but she said the church facilities were quickly filled.
The Elk Grove warming center, at the Barbara Morse Wackford Community Center, 9014 Bruceville Road, is open from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., although Cantelme said no one sought shelter there Tuesday night. The city of Galt was scheduled to open the Chabolla Community Center, 610 Chabolla Ave., on Wednesday night to people in need of shelter from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., or longer if needed.
If temperatures begin to rise, Cantelme said, the centers will close.
Swanberg said a gradual warming is expected beginning Thursday . After an anticipated daytime high around 52 degrees Thursday, the temperature is expected to drop to 32 degrees overnight. By Saturday night, lows are expected to edge into the upper 30s, then into the low 40s by Sunday night.
In the Sierra, Wednesday’s overnight low in Truckee was expected to be 4 degrees below zero, with patchy freezing fog, and a high of 31 degrees on New Year’s Day. Lows of 4 degrees and 8 degrees are forecast for Thursday and Friday night, respectively, with daytime highs in the low 40s.
Call The Bee’s Cathy Locke, (916) 321-5287.