Metro-east prepares for more bitterly cold temps

News-DemocratJanuary 21, 2014 

Look for bitterly cold temperatures to stick around through the next couple of days.

The high temperature Tuesday was just 16, but it felt like below zero with winds gusting up to 23 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

Wednesday should be a little bit warmer with a high temperature of 33 under partly sunny skies. But the mercury will plunge to a blustery 3 degrees overnight.

Thursday is expected to be frigid, with temperatures not leaving the teens.

Ice and snow made for a messy commute Tuesday morning.

Illinois State Police responded to about 40 incidents Tuesday morning in the metro-east, including several vehicles in ditches, said Trooper Calvin Dye.

No injuries were reported.

Beginning about 3 a.m., the strong winds made the roads slick and dangerous, Dye said.

"It was beyond crazy due to the wind," he said.

Around 3 a.m. the wind blew over a construction sign on Interstate 255 near Interstate 64, but troopers were able to pick it up before it caused any accidents, Dye said.

About 5 a.m., a jackknifed tractor trailer caused a 25 minute shutdown on Interstate 255 near Illinois 3 in Columbia, Dye said.

The St. Clair County Sheriff's Department responded Tuesday to one crash and a few cars that slid into ditches, but no injuries were reported, said Capt. Scott Weymouth.

No major crashes were reported in Madison County, according to the sheriff's department.

Most school districts in the metro-east were closed Tuesday due to the snow and ice.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provided these tips how to survive freezing temperatures:

* Bring pets and companion animals inside. Move other animals or livestock to sheltered areas.

*Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.

*Know how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

*An emergency supply kit at home will help prepare for power outages. The home supply kit should include a three-day supply of food and water for each person, a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, extra flashlights and batteries, and any items to meet the unique needs of your family.

*Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, check or have a mechanic check the antifreeze levels, battery and ignition system, and keep a full tank of gas to prevent the fuel line from freezing. Check your oil levels also; heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.

*Keep an emergency supply kit in your vehicle. The kit should include a shovel, windshield scraper, flashlight, battery powered radio, extra batteries, water, snack food, matches, extra warm clothing, necessary medications, blankets, tow chain, road salt, booster cables, emergency flares and fluorescent distress flags.

*If you have a fireplace or wood-burning stove, be sure to store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. If your heat goes out, never use a generator inside.

*While shoveling snow, watch for warning signs of a heart attack, including lightheadedness, dizziness, being short of breath or if tightness or burning in chest, neck, arms or back. If you think you are having a heart attack, call 911.

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