CLINTON With wind chill warnings in effect again today, officials are warning people to take precautions.
State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said a "wind chill warning" is the worst cold weather advisory in Iowa, requiring a wind chill of at least 30 degrees below zero for an extended time.
The National Weather Service issued wind chill warnings for Clinton and Jackson, Whiteside and Carroll counties, spanning from Wednesday afternoon to noon today. In Clinton and Jackson County, the wind chill was forecast as low as 36 degrees below zero, with temperatures of between 11 below and 8 above zero.The NWS predicted that Whiteside and Carroll counties would see wind chills of 32 below zero and temperatures of between 9 degrees below zero and 10 degrees above zero.
"In some ways, not a whole lot more than what we've seen this winter," Hillaker said. "It's been a cold one."
Hillaker said Iowa will sometimes go several years without weather conditions being cold or windy enough for a wind chill warning. However, today's warning was not the first one for this winter season.
In today's weather conditions, the wind seems to be a bigger factor than the cold temperatures. The NWS forecast predicted northwest winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour, with wind gusts as high as 30 to 35 miles per hour. Hillaker agreed it is the wind that is leading to the extreme wind chill.
"It's pretty cold but not as cold as we've seen several times this winter," Hillaker said.
No matter what is causing the extreme temperatures, people need to be cautious when outside, Hillaker said. In this type of weather, exposed skin can freeze within 15 minutes or less.
Hillaker warned people not to take things for granted, He said it can be easy to run outside to the mailbox without a jacket or not wear enough layers when just driving a few minutes to the store. However, if a person falls outside or has car trouble, he or she could be outside longer than planned.
"Just take some extra caution that you don't put yourself in a bad situation," Hillaker said.
Hillaker also said people should be aware of their plumbing, and not just the pipes that have a tendency to freeze. With the past three months being very cold, he said the frost on the ground has gone much deeper than typical.
"It's been cold enough, long enough that even things that are normally not susceptible could freeze," Hillaker said.
Today's cold weather is expected to be followed with somewhat warmer temperatures on Friday; as much as 27 degrees. However, Hillaker said another cold front is expected to move into the area near the end of the weekend or early next week.