Life-Threatening Cold Takes Brutal Aim on Iowa

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Life-threatening cold is underway across Central Iowa. Wind Chill Advisories and Wind Chill Warnings are now in place for Tuesday morning through Thursday morning, as wind chills in parts of the state will drop to as low as -60º.  Northern Iowa may experience -30 temperatures for 50 consecutive hours.

This afternoon, gusty winds will begin to settle down slightly. We had gusts as high as 60 mph very early Monday morning as an arctic front rushed across the state. This led to cold wind chills and blowing and drifting of snow that kept roads icy and difficult to travel. The winds will be blustery but not quite as strong this afternoon. Expect winds of 15 to 25 mph this afternoon and temperatures in the single digits, wind chills in the teens below zero for the remainder of the day.

Tuesday morning will begin with temperatures near 0 and wind chills as low as -25º in Central Iowa, colder in Northern Iowa. Temperatures will struggle to rise and in fact, will drop back below zero by the end of the day.


Wednesday will be our coldest day, the overnight from Tuesday night into Wednesday especially. Wind chills in Central and Southern Iowa will range from -30 to -40. This can lead to frostbite to exposed skin in 30 minutes. Northern Iowa will have wind chills of -40 to -60. This can lead to frostbit on exposed skin in 10 minutes. Temperatures will not rise above zero. The record low for Des Moines on Wednesday is -17 below in 1965.


Thursday will be slightly less windy. Temperatures will still be just as cold around -20 below in the morning, but wind chills will be similar to the actual air temperature due to less wind. The record low for Des Moines on Thursday is -21 in 1996.


The All-time record low for Des Moines is -30 below on January 5, 1884. The last cold outbreak of this significance occurred from January 30th 1996 to February 3, 1996.

This is a life threatening cold. Prolonged exposure may lead to frostbite and death. Vehicles including school buses, may have difficulty starting in this cold. Plan accordingly to limit time outside and if you must travel or be on the roads, have an emergency winter survival kit in your car if you were to become stranded. Blankets, extra coats, gloves and hats, boots, bottles of water, non-perishable food, hand warmers, a small shovel, flash light, batteries,  and first aid kit. Jumper cables and road flares are also good to have.

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