By Jim Hagerty
Near record-breaking temperatures closed area schools, businesses and other organizations Monday, continuing a recent pattern of dangerous winter weather in the stateline.
In Rockford, temperatures reached minus 18 before the sun offered some reprieve. Gusty winds of 15 to 30 mph, however, brewed wind chill factors as low as 40 to 45 below zero. The results were extremely treacherous conditions expected to continue through Tuesday.
The cold was to blame for a number of traffic accidents, minor power outages and broken water pipes, yet no major incidents or deaths were reported.
Statewide, warming shelters were well-used Monday, including a dozen area centers that will remain open Tuesday. While many of those who utilized the warming centers were homeless, some came by way of stalled vehicles.
According to the Illinois State Police, hundreds cars failed to start, became stuck in drifts and slid into ditches.
Meanwhile, Gov. Pat Quinn (I) issued a disaster declaration.
“The state of Illinois has mobilized all resources to keep residents safe while continuing to provide critical state services,” Quinn said. “We are facing a dangerous combination of low temperatures, black ice and snow drifts. I want to recognize the heroism of our state’s first-responders and emergency personnel who have been working throughout the night and day to rescue motorists and provide critical services and assistance in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable.”
Police also remind motorists to keep a winter survival kit in their vehicles. Kits should contain extra clothing, flashlights, water, food, blankets, mobile phone charger and a first aid kit.
Area schools will remain closed Tuesday, including Rockford District 205 and Harlem School District. Classes at Rock Valley College, Rockford Career College and Northern Illinois University are scheduled to resume Wednesday. Some government offices and services will also be closed.
Among services that will remain open is the Rockford Mass Transit District. Buses will run on their regular weekday routes beginning at the usual start time of 5:15 a.m.
Passengers are reminded that cold weather can cause breakdowns and are urged to obtain information about wait times and route information before heading to bus stops. Information may be obtained by calling the RMTD at (815) 961-9000 or visiting the district’s website.
Tuesday’s forecast includes a high of 4 and a low of minus 5.
See a list of area warming centers.
Closings, cancellations and delays are here.
Posted Jan. 6, 2014