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Get ready for a ‘brutal’ winter blast

January 18, 2019

Winter has come back refreshed and ready to wreak havoc on us starting Friday.

This past weekend’s snowfall was an appetizer for what is expected to be the start of a few more snow events and bone-chilling air escaping from the Arctic.

This time around, snow will start things off followed by temperatures dropping to near zero degrees Fahrenheit with wind chills below zero beginning Saturday night.

“Brutal,” AccuWeather meteorologist Bob Smerbeck said in describing what lies ahead during a telephone interview on Wednesday.

Forecasters are predicting 6 to 10 inches of snow accumulation here beginning Friday night and winding down Saturday night.

Piggybacking on the snow will be our first taste of bitter cold from the North Pole mixing in with winds gusting 20 mph on Friday and increasing to 35 mph to 40 mph on Saturday.

Temperatures will drop from the low 30s Friday to the low teens Saturday night and single digits Sunday. Wind chills will be in the zero to minus-10 degree range.

We can point the finger at the polar vortex for the invasion of the brutal cold.

“There was a major attack on the (polar vortex)” at the beginning of 2019 splitting it into two parts, Smerbeck said. One part is targeting the U.S. while the other is affecting Europe’s weather.

Smerbeck said the cold temps will remain around into the early part of February. Just in time for Groundhog Day.

When asked if he gets grief from his neighbors when they don’t like the forecast, Smerbeck said, “The neighbors, My own family gives me grief. Everybody gives me grief.’’

He has been a meteorologist for 35 years, the last 25 with AccuWeather.

New ingredient

The Illinois Department of Transportation crews clearing the interstates and state roads in Illinois State Police District 21 are using beet juice along with the rock salt they spread on the roadways.

District 21 said in a Facebook post beet juice is a more environmentally friendly alternative for de-icing roads.

Beet juice is added to rock salt as a less corrosive alternative to liquid calcium chloride. Rock salt (sodium chloride) alone can only melt ice down to a temperature of 5 degrees Fahrenheit, but by adding beet juice with rock salt, ice can be melted at temperatures as low as minus-20 degrees. The use of beet juice also reduces the amount of chlorides released into ditches and waterways. It helps reduce rusting of our cars, equipment, and bridges.

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