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Extreme cold and snow on horizon for DeKalb County

January 26, 2019 GMT

DeKALB – Brace yourself: Old Man Winter is expected to barrel through DeKalb County in the next several days, bringing snow followed by days of dangerous wind chills and below-zero temperatures.

Amy Seeley, meteorologist for National Weather Service in Chicago, said there is a 62 percent chance DeKalb County will see snowfall greater than 6 inches of snow from Sunday evening to Monday morning. However, she said, the service is not issuing exact totals for expected snow in the next few days.

“Any little change in this pattern is going to alter things greatly,” Seeley said.

Saturday’s high is 8 degrees in DeKalb iand Sunday’s is 11 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Monday’s forecast is a high of 28 degrees, and then temperatures are expected to plummet, with both Tuesday and Wednesday both expected to bring high temps of zero.

Seeley said the cold will be most extreme Tuesday night into Wednesday, with temperatures expected to reach minus-20 degrees. She said wind chills below zero are expected for Tuesday through Friday next week.

The coldest temperature in Illinois on record was minus 36 degrees on Jan. 5, 1999 near Congerville in Woodford County, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.

Nathan Schwartz, engineer for the DeKalb County Highway Department, said the county’s snow plow and salt truck crew will get a break over the weekend, since the snow isn’t set to start until overnight Sunday into Monday. He said he has been told it’s supposed to be a pretty light snow but it will be windy, and crews will be fighting drifting snow for the next several days.

“We will be out there as much as we can, pushing the snow Mother Nature keeps blowing back into the road,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said he has noticed vehicles tend to speed up when they see a clear patch of road. He warned drivers should not get too complacent because of that.

“There might be a bad stretch of road just around the corner,” Schwartz said.

DeKalb interim Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said he advises people to keep space heaters away from combustibles such as curtains. He said residents should also open under-sink cabinets to let heat reach uninsulated pipes and leave faucets to drip so that pipes don’t freeze.

“And absolutely, do not use blowtorches to warm up pipes,” he said.

McMaster said people should not run torpedo or kerosine heaters indoors, as they can load a house up with carbon monoxide. He said motorists should be sure their roadside assistance service is active, keep a blanket in their car and to make sure to keep their phone fully charged before traveling.

Dennis Miller, coordinator for the DeKalb County Emergency Services Disaster Agency, said residents should dress for the weather and cover as much skin as possible whenever they have to brave the cold – even if it’s just to grab the mail. He said there is a hightened risk for frostbite as well, where it could happen within a half hour, and that would warrant immediate medical attention.

“It doesn’t take long at all, with the way the weather is supposed to be this weekend,” Miller said.

Miller said that kind of exposure warning applies to pets as well. He said people should also seek shelter at warming centers, if need be, in places like libraries or other public buildings.

“Worst-case scenario, go see a movie or go to the mall and walk around for a while,” Miller said.