End in sight for bitter cold spell

The blustery wind chills and arctic temperatures that shut down area schools and businesses this week should end Wednesday and lead to a weekend warm-up.

Wind gusts that caused wind chills to dip to 25 below zero Tuesday afternoon should drop to 10 mph overnight and remain light Wednesday, with temperatures expected in the upper single digits, National Weather Service Meteorologist Charles Mott said.

Temperatures are expected to climb through the rest of the week, reaching the mid-30s on Friday and Saturday. There is also a chance of light rain or light freezing rain or sleet Friday and a possibility of light rain or snow Saturday.

The higher temperatures could lead to flooding though, as ice-jammed rivers start to melt.

“As this week goes on, the temperatures are going to warm so it’s possible the ice will break up,” Mott said. “Because of that, certain areas could flood depending on how on the ice comes out of the river.”

The return of single-digit temperatures on Wednesday means area students should return to school from their extended winter break.

Woodstock District 200 and Crystal Lake District 47 posted notices on their websites saying school will be back in session Wednesday. Prairie Grove District 46 said a return to school looks “very promising.”

Schools, businesses, libraries and park programs were closed or canceled Monday and Tuesday, as frigid temperatures combined with dangerously low wind chills hit the area – the coldest in nearly two decades.

Drifting snow and icy roads caused several accidents, many of them involving vehicles slidding into ditches, according to various dispatch centers. Metra also experienced delays, including for both inbound and outbound trains on the Northwest line.

While the visibility problems caused by drifting snow may dissipate as the winds die down Wednesday, below freezing temperatures could keep roads slick.

Independent truck driver Bob Geisman for R.E. Garrison Trucking of Cullman, Ala., has spent 33 years driving across the country. He pre-treated and weatherized his truck in Tennessee last week before making his way north.

He recommends that drivers dealing with snow and ice “accelerate slow, turn slow and change lanes slow to avoid any surprises.”

• Photo Editor H. Rick Bamman contributed to this report.

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