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High winds, colder temps create 'messy' road conditions

Published: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 8:05 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Dave Storm of DeKalb attempts to clear the thick ice covering the sidewalk bordering Lincoln Highway before the next drop in temperature Thursday. "I'm waiting for the rain to start working with me," Storm said.

High winds, colder temperatures and a light dusting of snow have created hazardous road conditions across DeKalb County for today's morning commute, said Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste.

A major storm system moved through the area over the last 24 hours and is now exiting via Lake Superior, he said. That storm dropped between 1 and 2 inches of rain across the county, and that, along with a dusting of snow overnight, has produced icy road conditions and localized flooding.

“What we have had is a big old mess,” Sebenste said. “We are getting numerous reports of accidents throughout the area due to black ice. Residents have to be careful when traveling or even walking on the sidewalks.”

That black ice was caused by a sharp decrease in temperatures this morning, Sebenste added, when temps dropped from the lower 30s to the lower 20s, causing the water on the road to freeze into a sheet of ice.

A wind advisory is also in effect until 3 p.m.

“We had gusts of around 50 mph for a couple hours last night in DeKalb, and since that time, the wind gusts have been at 40 to 45 mph,” Sebenste said. “Those will continue until this afternoon. However, we are not going to see a major drop until sunset.”

Once the storm system completely moves out of the area, residents can expect cold air to return to the region over the next week or longer. Forecasters are calling for highs in the 20s this weekend and early next week, but temps could drop into the teens later next week.

“We're expecting it to be cold through the first week of March,” Sebenste said. “If you are looking for spring, it is not coming any time soon around here.”

— Lawerence Synett

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DeKALB – DeKalb County residents could see icy roads and strong winds this morning, although both could improve by tonight, said Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste.

Winds will gust as high as 40 mph with a morning windchill around zero, though there will be plenty of sunshine, Sebenste said. The high temperature will be 31 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

“Winter is not going to loosen its icy grip on us any time soon,” Sebenste said.

Thursday’s weather caused flooding in areas where catch basins were covered with snow. By 7 a.m. Thursday, the area picked up 1 inch of rain and nine-tenths of an inch of snow in DeKalb, Sebenste said. By Thursday night, the area was expected to receive about 1.5 inches of rainfall.

Kishwaukee College delayed classes until 10 a.m. Thursday after ice formed from melting snow clogged the exterior drainage systems and water backed up in the parking lots, said Rob Galick, the college’s vice president of finance and administration.

Mark Espy, DeKalb Public Works assistant director, said crews spent the day Thursday removing snow from the catch basins. Their work today will depend on whether the worst of the area weather hits DeKalb County or is focused to the east.

Still, drivers need to be careful, Espy said.

“Whenever you get snowbanks full of snow, you could have perfectly dry roads then find a patch of ice near a snow bank,” Espy said.

Fred Busse, Sycamore Public Works director, said flooding Thursday was localized in urban areas where water couldn’t get into catch basins. He hopes the temperatures drop slowly enough to give the water a chance to go down before it freezes on the street.

“We’re ready to address and respond to calls as they come in,” Busse said.

DeKalb County Engineer Nathan Schwartz said his crews spent Thursday morning pushing slush off the roads and unplugging catch basins. Crews have worked many hours so far this winter, so they will only be out if the road conditions require it, Schwartz said.

“Right now, I can’t say what time we’ll go out,” he said Thursday. “Like any forecast, it’s always dependent on Mother Nature.”

According to the National Weather Service, Saturday’s weather will be mostly sunny with a high of 31 degrees. Sunday will be partly sunny with a high of 22 degrees.

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