A new all-time record low temperature of 29 degrees below zero was set at around 6 a.m. today, according to the National Weather Service.
“We've never been that cold ever,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Mike McClure late Thursday in anticipation of a new low. The previous record was set in February 1996, when the temperature sank to minus 28 degrees, Mr. McClure said.
The minus 29 temperature recorded so far today also, of course, is a benchmark for the Jan. 16 daily record, set in 1888 at minus 23 degrees. And the new low also sets the new record for January, which twice has seen minus 27 -- in 1884 and 1979.
Making the cold feel even colder, today's winds could make the temperature feel like a debilitating -45 degrees, Mr. McClure said.
“Basically, we’re talking about frostbite in 10 minutes,” Mike Zenner, NWS meterologist, said Thursday afternoon. “It’s going to be miserable and not something to be messed around with.”
The high could be around 9 degrees for the day, Mr. McClure said.
Area schools took the forecasts to heart. By noon Thursday, many administrators announced there would be no Friday classes. In-service days planned for Iowa Quad-Cities schools also kept students home, although Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley were open Thursday as the high reached all of -9, but felt like -34 amid afternoon winds.
The cold also caused several accidents in the Quad-Cities Thursday night. Reports of an estimated 17 accidents on the Illinois side of the I-74 bridge prompted the span's closure at about 8:30. Traffic was allowed again at 9:46 p.m., but with warnings of persisting black ice.
The severe cold arrived on winds bringing air from the Arctic Circle. Normally, those winds have time to slightly heat up, but these came in directly, Mr. Zenner said.
“We’re basically getting the brunt of the weather system,” he said.
As Thursday's midday temperatures hovered around -15 degrees, the bitter cold caused numerous headaches across the Quad-Cities. Jerry Martin, Rock Island’s water district supervisor, said crews worked on three water main breaks and about a dozen service calls for frozen pipes in residences.
“With this type of weather, anything can happen,” he said.
Moline's water department also had received about a dozen calls by noon Thursday from people without water or with leaking pipes. Although the majority of problems were inside homes and the homeowner's responsibility, city crews "help play detective” to find where the leak is, said Greg Swanson, Moline’s water general manager.
“The severe cold has been creating problems for our customers,” he said.
According to the NWS, the worst may be behind us. But with no substantial increase in temperatures expected until Saturday — when a 27-degree high is forecast — Mr. Swanson said he didn’t want to jinx the crews standing by.
“We’re a little superstitious right now,” he said. “It could get a lot worse.”
Davenport's Public Works Crews plan to take advantage of the expected warm up to clear the downtown of snow on Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Parking meters will be bagged to designate No Parking from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, bagged meters from River Drive to 4th Street and from Scott Street to Perry Street will not be enforced until after 2 a.m.
Closed schools include Aledo, Alwood, Annawan, Bettendorf, Black Hawk College, Bureau Valley, Cambridge, Carbon Cliff/Barstow, Colona, East Moline Christian School, East Moline District #37, Erie, Geneseo, Hampton, Immanuel Lutheran, Jordan Catholic, Kewanee, Moline, Morrison, Neponset, North Scott, Orion, Quad City Christian, River Bend, Riverdale, ROWVA, Rock Island Alleman, Rock Island-Milan Seton Catholic, Sherrard, Silvis, Temple Christian, United, United Township, U of I College of Nursing, Westmer and Wethersfield.