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Winter's frigid wrath: Cold snap breaking records in DeKalb County

Cold snap breaking records in DeKalb County

Matthew Apgar -
TAILS Humane Society employee Jared Morgan of DeKalb takes "Dasher", an Australian Shepard-Retriever mix, for a shortened walk outside for exercise and a potty break on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 in DeKalb.  Temperatures were too cold for a normal-length walk.
Matthew Apgar - TAILS Humane Society employee Jared Morgan of DeKalb takes "Dasher", an Australian Shepard-Retriever mix, for a shortened walk outside for exercise and a potty break on Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018 in DeKalb. Temperatures were too cold for a normal-length walk.

DeKALB – Emma Rankin, an adoption counselor at TAILS Humane Society, said in fair weather, animals get at least five to 10 minutes of outdoor exercise.

In the subzero temperatures DeKalb County has experienced the past several days, however, allowing animals outside for any reason other than to answer nature’s call could be dangerous.

“Dogs’ paw pads are really sensitive,” Rankin said. “It’s like our skin. It freezes really easily because it’s not protected.”

This weather, which has driven animal and man indoors, will continue the rest of the week and might lead to more snow this weekend.

Record cold

If it felt colder than ever before on New Year’s Day, that’s because it was. The high temperature of minus 2 between 7 a.m. Monday and 7 a.m. Tuesday was the coldest high recorded during that time span in DeKalb County since the National Weather Service began collecting data in the area in 1966.

The average daily temperature in January in DeKalb County is about 20 degrees, and the average between that same time span Monday into Tuesday was minus 8½ degrees – another record.

Lows are expected to dip below zero every night until Saturday.

It’s not just cold, however. If we get the overnight snow that’s possible, it will just sit on the frigid roads Wednesday morning.

“Even a small amount of snow could cause issues because of slippery roads,” said Ricky Castro, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service’s Chicago office.

He said the high temperatures could flirt with 10 degrees Wednesday, but won’t get near the freezing point of 32 degrees until Sunday.

At that point, more snow could come.

“It’s still pretty early to say how that’s going to play out, and how much we could get,” Castro said. “It doesn’t look like a major event from the latest modeling, but that’s still several days out.”

He even answered the $64,000 question: Why is this happening?

“It’s the magnitude of the cold air mass, but it’s also the snow covering,” he said. “Snow acts as a natural refrigerator, and there are at least a couple of inches on the ground throughout the county.”

Water lines

Bryan Faivre, superintendent of DeKalb utility division, said between five and 10 calls have come in over the past few days about frozen pipes in homes, but despite a number of incidents in December, no water main breaks were reported over the New Year’s holiday.

Faivre advises residents who have experienced frozen pipes in the past to let their water run at a trickle, which is pretty inexpensive.

“The biggest thing is making sure your plumbing lines are protected,” Faivre said. “We’ve been to basements where it’s bitterly cold, and that’s just a recipe for disaster [for pipes].”

Faivre also recommends leaving the heat on when leaving the home.

Calls came in across the city of DeKalb for internal plumbing problems, but it has not been cold long enough to affect the city’s underground water system, Faivre said. Service lines run between 5- and 6-feet deep in the city, and the frost has only reached about half that distance.

“It takes very cold weather for an extended period of time for that,” he said. “It’s not that it can’t happen, but we would probably need another week or two of conditions like that.”


At Northern Illinois University, a decision to declare an emergency weather suspension to cancel classes or other campus operations involves a number of departments, including public safety, facilities management and student affairs.

Class cancellations must be finalized by the provost, but emergency weather closures require the president’s approval.

NIU spokesman Joe King said any closures are event-driven, depending on the particular weather conditions. Sometimes, classes might be canceled, but employees still have to come in. Other times, operations will have a later start time.

“For most of the past decade, there’s been around a closure a year at minimum,” King said. “We have a big commuting population, and we’re out in an unprotected [area] so for the safety of everybody, it may make sense to shut it down.”

When classes start back up in DeKalb School District 428 on Wednesday, students riding the bus should not experience any problems getting to class.

Jason Calloway, branch manager for First Student Transportation Services, said buses were running four routes for the Camelot Education building on Oak Street this week, and no bus problems are expected when classes resume Wednesday for all district schools.

Warming centers

The DeKalb Fire Department is also reminding residents of the three buildings serving as warming centers during their normal hours of operation: the DeKalb Senior Center on 330 Grove St., the Haish Gymnasium on 303 S. Ninth St. and the DeKalb Public Library on 309 Oak St.

If the centers are closed, Hope Haven on 1145 Rushmoore Drive is a no turn away shelter.

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