Arctic blast heading our way; 3 to 5 inches of snow likely today

The coldest weather of the season is about to descend, as a fast-moving Arctic cold front barrels our way.

Whiteside and Carroll counties are under a winter storm warning until 6 p.m. Friday, Lee and Ogle until noon Friday, and now that the snow has begun to fall, area cities are declaring snow emergencies, triggering odd-even parking rules.

Dixon schools sent students home at noon, in advance of the bad weather to come, and Meals on Wheels will not be delivering today in Lee and Ogle counties.

The Lee County Health Department is postponing the remainder of this afternoon’s COVID-19 vaccine clinic. Those with appointments will be contacted to reschedule, the department said.

Some health clinics around the area also are closing early, as are other businesses, so it’s a good idea to call before you go, if go you must.

Folks can expect 3 to 5 inches or more to fall today, with patchy blowing snow after 5 p.m. and about a half-inch more snow overnight, with winds gusting to as high as 40 mph, the National Weather service says.

That means those who must drive should plan on low visibility and even whiteout conditions. Wet roadways quickly will freeze and become icy.

Temperatures will fall to around 29 today, but Friday’s high will hit only about 14, with wind chills to 10 to 14 below.

The bad news is, that’s the warmest temperature we’re going to see for a few days.

Saturday’s high will hover around 9 degrees, with a low of minus 12 and more snow – less than an inch – predicted.

There’s only a 30% chance of snow Sunday, with a high near 5 and a low around 2 below.

Things start to warm up Monday, when the high climbs to a rousing 16 degrees, with a 40% chance of snow.

As always, with such frigid temps, keep an eye on your elderly neighbors, keep your pets indoors, and leave your faucets trickling to help keep pipes from freezing.

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.