Cold weather to be here for days

Temperatures across McHenry County topped out around 6 or 7 degrees Monday, and today isn’t going to be much warmer.

“We’ll still be in the same air mass, so highs will be probably around the same, around 6 degrees,” said meteorologist Ben Deubelbeiss of the National Weather Service.

Overnight, the temperature was expected to drop to 5 below zero, with a wind chill as low as 20 below, Deubelbeiss said.

A wind chill advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. today.

“For Chicago, the normal high temperature is 31. The normal low is 16,” Deubelbeiss said. “We’re well below our normals for this time of year.”

The last time the area was this cold was Feb. 10, 2011, when the temperature was -9 at night, he said.

Frostbite to exposed skin can happen in 30 minutes, and it’s not recommended to spend extended time outdoors.

Local fire departments are encouraging people to plan ahead, such as keeping a blanket and some provisions inside vehicles, as well as jumper cables, a shovel and ice melt.

“In your home, plan for the worst so when it happens, you are ready,” said Lt. Anthony Fredrickson of the Union Fire Department.

Know where to shut off the water if a pipe bursts. And if one does, get help from a qualified plumber.

“Do not use [a] Torpedo or other open flame heaters to try and thaw out frozen pipes,” Fredrickson said. “Chances are you are introducing a deadly carbon monoxide hazard, or even a fire hazard, into your home.”

On Wednesday, there will be a little bit of warmth, with a high near 21. Temperatures will stay in the low 20s for the rest of the week, Deubelbeiss said.

“Looking into this weekend, we’ve got a pretty strong low-pressure system that’s going to develop,” he said. “It looks like it’s going to transport some warmer air up here. By Sunday into Monday, we might be back into the mid- to upper 30s.”

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