It's cold. The wind makes it colder. At the speeds through which it is whipping through the Washington area, it can tear branches from trees, ravage power lines, bite the face and pierce that new down parks. It can also kill.
With the wind bringing the effect of the temperatures in the area far below what it reads on the thermometer, the cold brings an added threat to those who venture outside.
Cold wind on clothes damp from rain or snow or simple perspiration can bring on hypothermis, the loss of deep body heat.
"It's the most insidious threat in weather like this," said Dorothy Kropp, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service. "People may often not even realize they have it and yet a person can die of it in 15 or 20 minutes."
Don't take chances, Kropp and weather and health experts said. Bundle up. Wear layers of clothing that will provide insulation. Leave as little of the body as possible exposed to the wind. Keep moving.
If your car dies on the side of the road, Kropp advised, stay in it until help arrives, unless it's only a few blocks to the closest source of help.
Don't lick your lips. Stay sober - the spirit's gain is the body's loss. Don't even take the garbage out unless you're warmly dressed. Avoid over-exertion. But, of course, do not use this as an excuse for not taking the garbage out.
Various experts advice was to be on-guard for hypothermia's symptoms. If someone begins to complain of grogginess or dizziness or shivers uncontrollably, get him warm and out of the cold. Get something hot to drink. If there is no response, and a doctor is not immediately available, kropp said one of the best remedies is to place the afflicted person between two bare bodies and wrap them in blakets and sleeping bags.
"It sounds sexy," Kropp said. "But it's absolutely essential."