Bundle up: Another blast of winter is coming to southwest Illinois

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Frigid temperatures seem to be barreling toward the metro-east this week.

After reaching the 50s on Tuesday, an arctic blast will surge down from the northwest and send temperatures spiraling downward in the region Wednesday, according to Mark Fuchs, a senior service hydrologist with the National Weather Service of St. Louis.

Fuchs said Tuesday afternoon the front will push through the metro-east between 4 and 5 a.m. Wednesday.

“When people wake up and walk out the door Wednesday, temperatures will be in the mid-30s,” he said. “Even though daylight comes, temperatures will be dropping all day long. It’ll never rise and drop into the 20s and by sundown, we’ll be looking at temperatures in the low 20s and then likely see single digits as an overnight low.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the projected low Wednesday will be around 8 degrees with wind gusts as high as 26 miles per hour, sending the wind chill to as low as -8 degrees, Fuchs noted.

“(Wednesday night) is going to be cold,” he said.

There’s also a chance of snow, with little-to-no-accumulation expected. Then, on Thursday, the projected high is just 20 degrees with a low of 7, while the high for Friday is forecast at just 27 degrees with a low of 16.

Temperatures should warm up a bit Saturday-Sunday with highs of 37 and 35, respectively. Moreover, while the metro-east appears headed for a deep freeze, Fuchs said this front is nothing out of the ordinary for January.

“This is nothing close to record setting,” Fuchs said. “It’s basically a cold couple of days in January and just a normal shot of cold winter air. We’ve only seen one shot of cold air comparable to this one — earlier this month. It’ll be similar — maybe a touch colder — but pretty close to that and nothing out of the ordinary. Because we haven’t see a lot of this type of cold so far this season, it’s good to be aware of it and take proper precautions when going out and about.”

Hypothermia, frostbite, travel safety

Along those lines, two major concerns when temperatures plunge this low are hypothermia and frostbite. Fuchs noted signs of hypothermia include shivering, exhaustion, confusion, slurred speech and drowsiness. Signs of frost bite include numbness, white or grayish or yellow skin and hard or waxy-looking skin, he said.

Anyone who experiences either hypothermia or frostbite should seek immediate medical help. Other suggestions include getting into a warm room as soon as possible and warming the center of the body first, keeping dry and wrapping up in dry blankets, including the head and neck.

Additionally, if traveling, Fuchs recommends keeping an emergency kit in case the car breaks down. This includes bottled water, jumper cables and blankets.

“A lot of people don’t think about that, but it happens,” he said. “You don’t want to have to deal with those kinds of cold temperatures without having emergency supplies on hand. The same thing applies to your house. You want to make sure you have all of what you need and all the proper supplies in case, for some strange reason, the heat goes out.”

Precautions to take at home

This again includes bottled water as well as batteries for radios and flashlights in case the power goes out altogether. Fuchs also suggested unhooking hoses which, he noted, “is an easy, small detail to overlook.”

Another suggestion is turning on faucets to a very slow drip, which “will introduce enough motion in your pipes to inhibit freezing,” Fuchs said.

He especially recommends this for people who have a history of pipes freezing at their home or for people who have not lived in a home long enough to know if the pipes would freeze under these conditions.

The National Weather Service website recommends keeping plugged into the weather forecast as it develops.

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