Remember how yesterday we had temperatures in the mid 30s? Thanks to the passage of a strong arctic cold front, temperatures have been plunging all morning. In fact, in just a 4 hour period, the Rockford International Airport observed a temperature drop of 15 degrees.
For those that left the household this morning, we faced a little bit of everything during the early-day commute. We continued to deal with the snow that moved in during the afternoon yesterday. Snowfall totals ranged between 1″ to 3″ for most, with a few isolated spots closer to 3.5″. Winds following the cold front passage picked up, with gusts out of the north-northwest to 30 mph blowing snow across area roads. As temperatures continue to fall, the threat for a flash freeze is there. This typically can happen when moisture leftover on the roads quickly freezes with rapidly falling temperatures. Travel and road conditions should greatly improve by the afternoon hours. The winds are still going to be problematic through the rest of the morning, but the gustiest winds are going to subside by late-afternoon.
The story for the second half of Thursday is going to be the coldest air of the season and the wind chills. In fact, wind chill advisories and warnings have been in effect for many across the Upper Midwest, all because wind chills in those areas have dropped into the -20s, -30s, and even as far as the -40s. Wind chills locally have been fluttering around the 0° to -5° range. As the day carries on, temperatures are going to remain in the low to mid teens, wind chills are certainly going to remain in subzero territory.
Once we approach this evening, a strong area of high pressure, the one that is currently sitting over South Dakota, is going to shift over the state of Iowa. This system will not only help clear out the remaining cloud cover, but also bring those nasty wind chills into our neck of the woods. For that reason, the National Weather Service has placed a Wind Chill Advisory so far for Jo-Daviess, Stephenson, and Carroll counties. This advisory will go into effect starting at 8 PM this evening, and stretch through the night before expiring by 10 AM tomorrow morning. I’m sure as this frigid Thursday carries on, we should see that advisory spread eastward into other areas across the Stateline.
What does that mean for Valentine’s Day? Well, I can say with great confidence that Valentine’s Day is going to kick off with a frigid chill. As that same high pressure system sits overhead, conditions are going to be prime for temps to bottom out near -10°. Looking back in the record books, the record low for the morning of Valentine’s Day is -8 set back in 1916. So, it goes without saying that we have a good shot at breaking that record. While gusty winds won’t be an issue tomorrow, wind chills to start the day are likely to approach -20°. To ensure safety during this extreme cold, be sure to bundle up in multiple layers before stepping out the door.
Temperatures for Friday are going to only climb into the low teens, which would make Valentine’s Day 2020 one of the coldest on record. Wind chills through the afternoon Friday are going to hover around the 0° mark. The coldest weather of the winter season is pretty quick to move out, though. Bitter cold Thursday into Friday give way to warmer temperatures for the weekend.