1/31/2019 4:02:00 PM Local activities come to a halt in subzero weather
Still bundled up against the extreme cold, two Lincoln Trail College students seek a warm breakfast at the LTC cafeteria today. It was still 4 below zero when they photo was taken about 10 a.m. When the wind picked up, it felt like 23 below. (Randy Harrison photo)
Bitterly cold weather has had a chilling effect on area activities.
Crawford and neighboring counties are under a National Weather Service wind chill warning through noon Thursday. A wind chill warning means the combination of very cold air and the wind will create dangerously low wind chill values. Frostbite can occur quickly and even hypothermia or death if precautions are not taken.
Crawford County school officials opted Tuesday to close schools today. Some of the coldest temperatures, combined with strong winds, were expected about the time many children would have been waiting for buses.
All practices and events are also canceled. This includes a freshman registration meeting at Robinson High School. It will be rescheduled at a later date.
Also, an American Red Cross blood drive planned for Palestine High School today has been called off. Prospective donors can still give blood at two drives Thursday. One is 2 to 6 p.m., at CrossFit Final Call, 1302 W. Main, Robinson. The other is 2 to 7 p.m. at Nuttall Middle School.
Life Line screenings scheduled for today at the Robinson Community Center have been postponed until March 30. A representative will contact those who signed up to reschedule.
Schools in many neighboring counties are also closed. Schools in Clark, Jasper, Effingham and Lawrence counties are among those not in session today. Classes at Lincoln Trail College are in session today, but at Eastern Illinois University, Tuesday-evening classes as well as today's classes were cancelled, while offices remained open.
Robinson City Hall is closed, as are several other government offices. City Fourth of July and Park and Recreation Committee meetings set for today have also been canceled and rescheduled for the same times Monday.
Republic Services, which collects trash in Robinson, announced it would not run today or Thursday. Waste not picked up this week will be collected on the regular days next week.
Because of today's extreme weather, some Daily News subscribers who receive their papers by carrier may not get them until Thursday.
The circulation department is asking carriers to use their best judgment when choosing whether to deliver this evening, when wind chills could still be around 15 to 20 degrees below zero here.
No Crawford County power outages were reported, but a vehicle accident that took out a pole on Illinois Route 1 near Interstate 70 cut off power on the north side of Marshall for several hours early this morning.
Warnings about the cold should be taken seriously, according to Jill Coleman, a meteorologist at Ball State University.
The combination of a southward moving continental Arctic air mass combined with moderate-strong sustained wind speeds can create dangerously low wind chill values, Coleman said. Wind chill examines how fast the human body cools due to air motion which is accelerated when temperatures fall below 45 degrees.
When temperatures are this low, dangers such as frostbite and hypothermia can take hold in less than 30 minutes. Those impacted by the cold need to take the proper precautions and cover all exposed skin to avoid these dangers.
Besides dressing properly and staying indoors as much as possible, people should limit alcohol intake during the cold snap, Jagdish Khubchandani, a health science professor at Ball State, said.
Alcohol consumption may give individuals a false sense of warmth. "This is because alcohol dilates blood vessels increasing the blood flow to limbs and periphery of the body," he explained.
"While this creates a sensation of warmth in the chest and face, it causes the body to pull heat from your extremities. Generally, in colder weather our peripheral blood vessels constrict to save heat and blood flow is reduced to limbs," he added. "And, while too much of drinking may result in hypothermia, the effects of alcohol can be seen with just one drink."
Khubchandani said alcohol depresses the ability of the brain to properly function and even small doses can slow reflexes and increase reaction time leading to accidents and injuries.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is offering tips for homeowners to help keep their residences warm while saving on heating bills.
Heating, the agency reported, is the largest energy expense in the home, accounting for about 45 percent of the average American family's energy bills. Heat gain and loss through windows is responsible for 25 percent to 30 percent of residential heating and cooling energy use.
Homeowners should check for air leaks, particularly coming from fireplace dampers, electrical outlets or gaps around pipes and wires.
They should also cover windows with the right shades and draperies prevents warm air from escaping. Shades on south-facing windows should be open during the day to let in sunlight, but closed at night to reduce chill.
Turning down the thermostat while away or asleep can also lower bills. The lower the temperature is inside a house, the slower the heat loss.
Today's high temperature is expected to only be 3 above zero. Strong winds could make it feel like 17 to 27 below, the NWS warned.
Tonight's low is expected to be 2 above with wind chill readings of 7 to 13 below.
A high of 21 and a low of 19 are anticipated Thursday. There is a chance of snow and freezing rain overnight, but after that, the warmup should continue.
Friday's high should be near 38 with a low of 27. On Saturday, the mercury is expected to hit 49. The low should be near 39. Highs in the mid 50s are in the forecast for Sunday and Monday.