Ad-Express and Daily Iowegian, Centerville, IA

January 3, 2014

Dangerous cold moving into area


Courier Staff Writer

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.

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.”

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.

The Iowa Storm Chasing Network usually focuses on severe weather threats. But temperatures like this have grabbed their forecasters’ attention. The site says the temperatures will be the coldest in almost two decades, with February 1996 the last time things got this bad.