The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

January 3, 2014

Winter takes aim with dangerous cold

OTTUMWA — Southeast Iowa isn’t supposed to see all that much snow in the next couple days. But the National Weather Service is encouraging people to prepare like they would for a major snowstorm.

Kurt Kotenberg of the National Weather Service said Iowa faces life-threatening conditions over the weekend and into the first part of next week.

“Temperatures Saturday are probably going to be in the mid-20s, then the front will start pushing through,” he said. “Sunday temperatures will hold steady, then start falling in the afternoon and really plummet overnight.

The raw temperatures are bad enough. Saturday night’s forecast low of 1 is well below normal. The really unusual part is that Sunday’s high won’t reach above 1 and the overnight low is expected to be -14.

The worst will arrive Monday, when the daytime high is forecast to be -6. The extreme cold has already prompted some school districts, including Fairfield, to cancel classes for the day.

Compounding the cold will be strong winds that will make it feel much colder. Winds of 15-20 mph are expected, and wind chills across the state could be in the -30 to -50 range.

“That’s where we get the real big weather threat,” Kotenberg said. “Frostbite … can occur within 10 minutes.”

State Climatologist Harry Hillaker also points to the winds as a major concern.

“So far this winter has been pretty cold, but we’ve not had a lot of wind,” he said.

The winds could blow fallen snow back onto roadways, making them slick. With temperatures this cold, getting stuck is a dangerous event. People should make sure they have blankets and other items in their vehicles to help them stay warm. Kotenberg even recommends taking additional steps, like telling someone when you will be back home, as a precaution against getting stuck in an area without cell phone reception.

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