Pioneer Valley AAA calls up 30 percent from cold weather - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Pioneer Valley AAA calls up 30 percent from cold weather this week

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From flat tires to engines that will not start, the cold weather across the region is creating problems for cars. AAA Pioneer Valley reported a sizeable increase in calls for automotive assistance over the last week.

"We're up about 30 percent, which is huge." said Sandra Marsian, AAA Pioneer Valley vice president of membership and marketing. "We have a lot of drivers on the road and people in our call center nonstop to answer those calls."

This time of year is typically active for automotive membership purchases, but the additional calls from this cold weather is keeping AAA Pioneer Valley much busier than normal.

Wednesday morning's low temperature dropped to 4 degrees in Springfield, marking the sixth time in the last seven days that temperatures started either in the single-digits or below zero.

Major snowstorms keep many motorists off the roads all together, so AAA Pioneer Valley sees their biggest increase in calls during cold snaps like this one.

"At this time of year, it's definitely the jump starts," said Marsian. "People wake up, they go to start their car, and it doesn't."

AAA advises to have your battery checked before winter. However, even if your engine started fine on a cold morning, Marsian said that doesn't necessarily mean it will carry you through the entire winter.

"The engine works harder every day that you go to start it," said Marsian. "It might be working today, but two days later, another cold day like this, and it may not start. It certainly can't hurt to either call AAA or a repair shop and see if they have time to check your battery."

Nationwide, this record cold is grabbing headlines as a "polar vortex."  This phenomenon is not a new concept to meteorologists, and should not be seen as an individual type of storm like a hurricane or tornado.

The polar vortex is simply a permanent area of low pressure in the upper levels of the atmosphere of the Arctic. The strong counterclockwise winds around the low keeps the arctic air locked up to the north. Occasionally the winds weaken, distorting the shape of the vortex and allowing a branch of some of the coldest air within the vortex to drain southward.

The worst of the cold moves out of western Massachusetts beginning Thursday, with high temperatures returning to the 40s this weekend.

The complete seven-day forecast can be found in the Weather section.

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