DeKALB – Who would have thought it? All those rumblings and warnings and schools and groups canceling activities in anticipation of a flash freeze Thursday night, and the most consequential crash happened in the middle of the afternoon, hours before temperatures fell below the freezing point.
As of the Daily Chronicle’s press time, no accidents had happened on DeKalb County roads that were expected to become covered by sheer ice Thursday evening. The National Weather Service issued a winter weather warning effective through midnight in the county that included freezing rain and sleet, but whereas counties just a couple of dozen miles away became precarious to traverse, the county was spared.
In fact, the worst crash happened when a car hit a utility pole about 2:30 p.m. in the
900 block of North Annie Glidden Road and caused a handful of power outages in the neighborhood, according to a Northern Illinois University safety bulletin. DeKalb police officer Jim Winters said at the scene that whoever slammed into the pole fled the scene before first responders arrived.
The stretch of the busy street between Varsity Boulevard and West Hillcrest Road was closed for several hours. The road was reopened about 7:30 p.m., at which point most of the power had been restored, according to ComEd’s website.
It’s not as if it didn’t get cold enough to become dangerous after rain fell through the afternoon, but DeKalb County Sheriff’s Sgt. Joe Rood credited the DeKalb County Highway Department workers who spread salt early but then kept an eye on temperatures and road conditions to make sure nothing froze over.
It turns out the wind, of all things, might have been the key to the roads staying dry. Forecasts Thursday morning showed that the wind would reach 25 to 30 mph Thursday evening, but the wind starting whipping at more than 20 mph by late afternoon, much earlier than expected.
“We kind of expected it to freeze things over, but with the warmer temperatures earlier, when the wind picked up it seems it helped dry off the roads,” Rood said. “We got pretty lucky.”
Here’s the bad news: Temperatures might have flirted with the 60-degree mark Thursday morning before falling in the afternoon, but they won’t be going back up anytime soon. According to the NWS, temperatures aren’t expected to rise above the freezing point again until Jan. 19, with lows expected to reach zero early next week.
Back to the old normal, right?
“That’s normal for this time of year,” said Amy Seeley, a meteorologist with the NWS Chicago office.
There is a silver lining.
“It’ll be nowhere near as cold as last week,” she said.