Metro-East News

It’s cold now, but hang in there — forecasters expect a weekend warm up

The dangers of wind chill and frostbite awareness tips

The colder the temperatures or the stronger the wind, the faster frostbite will occur. Dress properly for the cold. If you feel pain or numbness, find warm shelter. If symptoms persist seek medical attention.
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The colder the temperatures or the stronger the wind, the faster frostbite will occur. Dress properly for the cold. If you feel pain or numbness, find warm shelter. If symptoms persist seek medical attention.

Schools closed and some city services shut down Wednesday as frigid temperatures rolled into the region and winds brought “feels like” temperatures down to minus 25, but metro-east residents may get a break from the cold weather this weekend.

The high for Wednesday was not expected to exceed 6 degrees, with wind chill values as low as minus 20 as winds could gust as high as 26 mph. A total of less than a half an inch of snow was expected to fall Wednesday.

However, temperatures will push to near 30 degrees Thursday, and by Saturday, National Weather Service forecasters are calling for a high around 53 degrees with partly sunny skies.

For now, agencies across Illinois are working to keep residents safe from the arctic blast.

The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency declared a County Disaster until Feb. 4, which will activate the County Emergency Operations Plan to provide resources to assist those who cannot provide care for themselves.

Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert sent a notice out Tuesday morning announcing that trash collection on Wednesday was canceled. Belleville residents with trash pick-up days on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this week should expected the service to be delayed by one day.

Many schools in the region closed Wednesday so that students would not have to wait for buses in the sub-zero temperatures.

Ameren Illinois was reporting only scattered power outages, mostly in the Belleville and Germantown areas. Area warming centers remained open. They include:

Calvary Lutheran Church at 6606 W. Main St. in Belleville will be open overnight from 7 p.m. Tuesday until Thursday afternoon. Calvary Lutheran Church has run short of blankets and pillows. To help out, bring them to the church. They also need overnight volunteers.

O’Fallon has a warming center, located at 285 N. 7 Hills Road

Granite City announced the Township Hall, at 2060 Delmar Blvd., would be open from 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through 8:30 a.m. as a warming center. The center will be monitored by a police officer at all times, the announcement stated.

Highland announced the Weinheimer Community Center would be a designated warming center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. If anyone needs access to this facility after business hours, however, they can contact the police department at 654-2131.

Caseyville will open the township building on Bunkum Road between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. After those hours, people can visit the Fairview Heights Police Department lobby to warm up.

The Edwardsville YMCA will be open to those who need to warm up during business hours.

The St. Clair County Emergency Management Agency said it would keep followers of its Facebook page updated with any school closings.

Around Illinois, wind chills dipped as low as 57 degrees below zero in Rockford as bitter cold weather moved across the state .

The National Weather Service said Wednesday’s weather in Illinois is “about as dangerously cold as it can be.” The temperature was 23 below in Chicago and 13 below in Springfield and Champaign. Southern Illinois saw readings of zero and 3 below. The low temperatures come after schools, universities, museums, courts and other facilities across Illinois preemptively closed Wednesday.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has issued a disaster proclamation. State and local officials have asked residents to stay indoors if possible and check on neighbors.

“This storm poses a serious threat to the well-being of people around the state, and we will use every tool at our disposal to keep our residents safe,” Pritzker said. “This disaster proclamation ensures that the state of Illinois has the flexibility to effectively and efficiently respond to the needs of local governments during this extreme weather event.”

In Chicago, ComEd crews restored power to more than 42,000 customers and were working to restore another 9,400 on Wednesday.

The cold struck Chicago transportation Wednesday morning, too, with more than 1,600 canceled flights and limited rail service. The South Shore Line suspended its commuter rail trips and said it expected limited service Thursday.

Some information for this story provided by the Associated Press.

Belleville News-Democrat news editor Dana Rieck was selected as Editor and Publisher’s “25 Under 35 Newspaper Leaders” for 2018 and works with the Online News Association in St. Louis. She attended Colorado State University and grew up in Loveland, Colorado.