Coldest night in nearly three years underway
Many schools already canceled Wednesday
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Coming off the coldest day here in more than eleven months, temperatures Tuesday night are already in a state of freefall, with still several more hours of cooling still ahead.
As of 9:00pm, temperatures had fallen to the 0° mark or lower areawide, and wind chills had already dropped to as low as -23°.
Not at all surprisingly, Wind Chill Advisories were re-issued early Tuesday, and will remain in effect through at least midday Wednesday for the entire area.
Before the night is done, wind chills are likely to fall to as low as -30° in many Stateline locales, which means that frostbite could occur in as few as 30 minutes.
As cold as it might be, the forecast low temperature -15° below would not be a record. In fact, it really wouldn’t come close. The record low for January 26 is -21°, set just three years ago. It appears to hardly be in jeopardy. It is, though, rather uncommon to see temperatures get as cold as they will overnight. Since 1905, there’ve been just 163 occurrences in which the low temperature fell to -15° or lower. That’s just 0.3% of our days. With that said, about 40% of our years have produced at least one such day, meaning this tends to happen two out of every five years. Thankfully, we’re in no danger of challenging 1979′s record of a whopping ELEVEN days with lows of -15° or above.
For as punishing as this chill, it could actually be worse! The fact that our days have lengthened by 40 minutes since the beginning of Winter means our nights are 40 minutes shorter. That may not sound like much, but losing 40 minutes of cooling in such a perfectly conducive environment to do so likely makes for a one or two degree difference in low temperatures.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll gain more than two minutes per day, which should make it even more difficult to have another night this cold the rest of the season. It’s not impossible, by any means, just increasingly unlikely.
Despite the fact that full sunshine is on tap Wednesday, and winds are to align out of the southwest, warming is to be kept to a minimum. Temperatures will only reach the single digits above zero by the time we reached the middle portion of the day, and we’re not likely to go much above 10°.
Skies will start to cloud over once again Wednesday night ahead of our next weather system. The added cloud cover will result in temperatures not likely to go below 0°.
Cloudy skies will prevail for much of the day Thursday, as a cold front is set to pass through during the afternoon hours. It’s not inconceivable to imagine a scenario in which a couple very isolated flurries or light snow showers may be squeeze out by the clouds, though accumulations are a longshot, at best.
Temperatures will briefly return to near normal levels Thursday, before a reinforcing shot of cold air arrives Thursday night into Friday. Thankfully, the next batch of arctic air does not appear to be remotely as punishing as this one.
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