STERLING – Get out the thick comforters and let the dogs sleep on the bed – it’s going to stay cold, possibly all the way to spring.
The National Weather Service issued a wind-chill warning Sunday for parts of western Illinois, eastern Iowa, and northeast Missouri.
Whiteside, Lee, Carroll and Bureau were among the counties that experienced wind chills in the range of 35 below zero overnight Sunday. Temperatures were below zero most of Monday with a high of only 3 degrees, and expectations for a low of minus 16 overnight, and wind chills to minus 40.
A wind-chill warning for the Sauk Valley ends at noon today, but NWS predictions suggest the current cold snap will continue at least until Jan. 12, with below-average temperatures possible until late March.
“The last time we had an extremely cold high was back on Dec. 18, 2016. The high was a temperature of minus 14. We did kind of rebound back in January,” said weather service meteorologist Peter Speck, based in Davenport, Iowa.
In Sterling and Rock Falls, the cold weather damaged Comcast systems, causing repair crews from the cable and internet company to swing into action in the overnight hours Monday and today. Sterling Mayor Skip Lee and Rock Falls Mayor Bill Wescott issued a joint press release Monday afternoon altering customers that they could expect widespread outages while repairs were underway. Work was expected to be completed by 6 a.m. today.
As of Saturday, the NWS’s latest climate prediction center outlook had the region stuck with a 40- to 50-percent chance of below-average temperatures across the upper 75 percent of Illinois and all of Iowa for the next 3 months.
And, Midwest residents could see more snow as well.
“At least through the early part of January, we look to be seeing above-average precipitation to the middle of the month,” Speck said. “For the 3-month forecast, we’re just barely in the probability of above-average precipitation. For the 4-month, it could go either way.”
A major influence is the existence of a La Niña, or cooling in the Pacific Ocean that leads to below-average temperatures in other parts of the world.
“In the central and eastern Pacific, sea surface temperatures tend to fluctuate and tend to go a bit below normal. It has an impact on a lot of different atmosphere temperatures,” Speck said.
For the short term, today should be clear but cold, with projected highs of 6 to 7 degrees, with mostly cloudy skies and a low of 2 degrees tonight.
Wednesday should be partly sunny, with a projected high of 14 and lows of minus 4 to minus 5 at night, followed by highs of 9 to 10 degrees Thursday. Thursday night is expected to dip to minus 1.
Drivers seemed to heed the warnings about the bitter cold, with no accidents reported to Rock Falls or Sterling police for 24 hours as of 9 a.m. Sunday. Figures weren’t available form Lee and Whiteside County sheriff’s departments Sunday night.
Drivers should keep an extra flashlight, food and water in their vehicle in case of an emergency. Go to gettingaroundillinois.com for the latest road conditions.