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Winter temperatures have fluctuated widely in Cincinnati in recent years, as seen in this video. The Enquirer/Cara Owsley

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The Ohio River last froze over in Cincinnati about 40 years ago in 1977 and 1978, after an extended period of extreme cold.

On Jan. 19, 1977, the ice was packed eight to 12 inches thick along Cincinnati, and hundreds of brave (or foolhardy) souls crossed the river on foot.

Will you be able to cross from Kentucky to Ohio on the river in 2018?

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The formation of river ice is rare. It happened in only 14 winters out of more than 140 years of record keeping in Cincinnati.

Temperatures during winter 1977 didn’t rise above freezing for more than 20 days.

The high temperature has been below freezing since Christmas eve this season - about a week so far. We are expected to cross back into above-freezing territory Sunday. That will bring us to 13 days of below-freezing temps.

More: Cincinnati weather forecast: Record low temps, dangerous wind chills

The deeper and wider the river, and the faster the water flow, the less likely it is to freeze. Moving water generates friction, which heats the water (even if only a bit).

SO WHY WAS STEAM RISING from the river?

Because the water temperature is warmer than the air.

 The "steam" is really fog, naturally enough often called "steam fog." This kind of fog is also known as "sea smoke" when it forms over cold oceans. The process begins when cold, dry air blows over warmer water. Some of the water evaporates into the lower layers of the air and the air is warmed by the warm water. The warmed air rises, where it mixes with colder air above. The mixing cools the air enough to begin condensing some of the newly added water vapor back into tiny droplets - fog. If you look closely, you see that the bottom of the fog is at least a few inches, maybe a couple of feet, above the water. The fog begins forming when the rising air is high enough to be cooled. 

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HOW LONG does it take to get frostbite or hypothermia?

Frostbite can strike a person in less than an hour, and significantly faster once the temperature drops.

At a zero degree temperature with a windchill of minus 33 degrees, exposed skin could become frostbitten in just 10 minutes, according to the Weather Channel.

Hypothermia occurs when a person’s core body temperature reaches 95 degrees or lower. That can happen when the outside air is too cold and/or the body’s heat production drops, according to the National Institutes of Health. The average normal body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

The National Institutes of Health warns that older adults are vulnerable to hypothermia because their bodies’ response to cold can be diminished. It also said homes with temperatures from 60 to 65 degrees can lead to hypothermia in older residents.

WHY DO WE SHIVER when it gets cold?

Shivering is a reflex of the body to help keep you warm, according to the website KidsHealth.org. Signals are sent to the brain, which then sends messages to nerves causing muscles to tighten and loosen quickly (or your teeth to chatter among other responses). The activity is designed to raise a person’s body temperature.

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Connie Swaim, Humane Society of Indianapolis director of canine training, offers a few ideas to keep your dog happy in severe cold weather. Brent Drinkut / IndyStar

 

 

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