Unseasonable cold blasting into McHenry County region

Cars drive through the rain on Rakow Road on Monday in Crystal Lake.
Cars drive through the rain on Rakow Road on Monday in Crystal Lake.

A blast of frigid weather is descending upon northeastern Illinois, forecast to wallop the McHenry County region this week with wind chills in the lower teens to zero degrees.

While Monday’s high temperature hovered around 47 or 48 degrees in the morning and early afternoon, the temperature was forecast to drop rapidly around the evening rush hour to about 37 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

That’s because a weather system was moving across the region, carrying a cold front sweeping in from Iowa and Wisconsin, meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez said Monday afternoon from the NWS office in Romeoville.

“We are heading to a colder period, he said. “It dips down across our area and then retreats.”

That colder air is unseasonably cold. By mid to late Monday evening, the temperatures in McHenry County was expected to plunge into the teens with the wind chill, Rodriguez said. Monday night’s low was forecast for about 15 to 16 degrees, with wind chills making it feel like the single digits as winds were expected to gust between 35 mph and 40 mph. By Tuesday morning, the temperature will be in the single digits thanks to the wind chill.

“You definitely want to dress appropriately,” he said.

Tuesday’s high is forecast at 21 degrees and sunny in Woodstock, and 22 degrees and sunny in Crystal Lake and McHenry, according to the weather service. Factoring in the wind chill on Tuesday, that high should feel like somewhere in the teens, Rodriguez said.

Typical for this time of year is a daytime temperature in the mid-30s, Rodriguez said.

Tuesday night will be another frigid one. Tuesday night’s low is forecast at 10 degrees in Woodstock and 11 degrees in Crystal Lake and McHenry, according to the weather service.

“The winds will be diminishing at least throughout the night, [but] wind chills may be approaching zero [degrees]. It will be another cold night” on Tuesday night, Rodriguez said.

Wednesday’s high is forecast to reach 20 degrees, but there is a chance for flurries. Temperatures then rise a bit on Thursday, to the low 30s, and to around 40 degrees Friday.

Such temperatures can prove dangerous to individuals who spend substantial amounts of time outside. One such group is homeless individuals.

Debbie DeGraw, vice president of marketing and development for Home of the Sparrow, said their short-term transitional shelter for homeless individuals was full Monday afternoon.

“Typically, we would work with Pioneer/PADS [Public Action to Deliver Shelter] and they would work with their network of churches to house people overnight,” she said.

A message was left Monday for Carrie Freund, director of homeless services for the Pioneer Center for Human Services, but she wasn’t available for comment.

Animals are in danger from such low temperatures, too.

Never leave a pet alone in the car in cold weather as the vehicle could act as a refrigerator and your pet could freeze to death, according to the McHenry County Health Department’s division of veterinary public health.

If feral or outdoor cats are in your area, drivers are asked to bang on their vehicle hoods before starting the engines to shoo them away, according to the health department. Some might seek warmth under the hood near the car’s engine, or on tires.

Dog owners are required in McHenry County to provide their animals with fresh, drinkable water, species-appropriate, wholesome, “good-quality” food and shelter if they are kept outside, according to the Veterinary Public Health Division.

On any day when the temperature outside is 20 degrees or less, that shelter must be large enough for the fully grown dog to stand up and turn around in and allow retention of body heat. The shelter’s entrance must be covered by a flexible, wind-proof material, a self-closing door or some other form of wind-blocking material, and must include clean, dry bedding that insulates but doesn’t retain moisture, such as straw or wood chips. This material should be deep enough so the dog may burrow and nest in it, according to the Veterinary Public Health Division.

During extreme weather conditions, no one should allow their companion dog shall to remain outdoors, tethered, or penned when the temperature hovers at or below zero degrees for more than a limited amount of time. All dogs should have access to a temperature-controlled shelter during such extreme cold, and no dog should remain outdoors, tethered or penned when wind chill warnings have been issued, the division of veterinary public health states.

McHenry County Animal Control staff couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.

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